In the digital age, the security of office equipment such as printers and copiers is of paramount importance. These devices, often overlooked in the context of data security, can serve as a gold mine for identity thieves if not properly secured.
Don’t believe this? Let’s look at some findings from Quocirca’s Global Print Security Landscape Report 2023:
- Only 19% of IT decision-makers are completely confident that their print infrastructure is protected from security breaches and data losses, a drop from 23% in 2022.
- 42% of organizations report suffering a cybersecurity incident in the past year, rising to 55% in mid-market companies and 51% in the finance sector.
- 61% of organizations experienced a data loss related to unsecured printing, rising to 63% in the UK and 67% among retail businesses.
- The average cost of print-related data breaches has risen to £743,000 (RM 4.2 mil) from £631,915 (RM 3.5 mil) in 2022.
- 79% of organizations expect to increase print security spending over the coming year, rising to 86% in the US, and 85% in professional services and retail organizations.
- More than a quarter (27%) of organizations are considered Leaders in the Print Security Maturity Index, a rise from 18% in 2022. These organizations have implemented six or more measures to protect the print infrastructure.
- 47% of print security Leaders reported one or more data losses due to unsecured printing, but this rose to 65% among Followers and 68% among Laggards.
- 39% of organizations are very satisfied with the security capabilities of their Managed Print Services (MPS) supplier, compared with 23% of non-MPS users.
Let’s explore the risks, learn about best practices, and discover how to improve your security measures.
Understanding the Risks
- An unsecured internet connection or firewall can leave your printer or copier vulnerable to unauthorized access and potential hacking.
Unsecured Printer Caches Lead to Data Breaches
- Printers and copiers often store documents in their caches, which can include sensitive data such as social security numbers and business account details.
- If these caches are not properly secured, they can be a source of significant data breaches.
Open Network Risks
- If the network used by your printer or copier is not properly secured, your equipment could be exposed to DDoS attacks and exploitative hackers.
The Threat of Remote Access
- While remote access to a printer can be convenient, it can also leave your printer vulnerable to hackers if not properly secured.
Hijacked Printer or Copier
- A hacker gaining control of a printer or copier can cause significant disruption, triggering massive printing jobs or rendering the machines unusable.
The Risk of Cloning Security Badges
- With the increasing use of RFID badges for access to office equipment, the risk of these badges being cloned and misused is a growing concern.
Best Practices for Copier and Printer Security
Reviewing Vendor Security Configuration Guides
- It is important to familiarize yourself with the security features and configurations recommended by the manufacturer of your printer or copier.
Developing a Standard Configuration and Regular Review
- Establishing a standard security configuration for all office printers and copiers, and regularly reviewing and updating this configuration, can help ensure consistent security practices.
Enabling Immediate Image Overwrite and Regular Off-Hours Overwrite
- To prevent the unauthorized retrieval of document images from printer or copier caches, enable an immediate image to overwrite and schedule regular off-hours overwrite.
- Encrypting the data stored on your printer or copier can provide an additional layer of security against data breaches.
Using Network Encryption and Secure Protocols
- Using network encryption and secure protocols such as IPSec, SSL, and SNMPv3 can help protect your printer or copier from network-based attacks.
Regularly Review Vendor Security Bulletins
- Manufacturers often release security bulletins to inform users of known vulnerabilities and recommended security measures.
- Regularly reviewing these bulletins can help you stay informed and take appropriate action.
Enabling Authentication and Authorization
- Using authentication and authorization mechanisms can help ensure that only authorized individuals can access and use your printer or copier.
Changing Admin Password Regularly
- Regularly changing the admin password of your printer or copier can help prevent unauthorized access.
Enabling Audit Log and Regular Review
- Enabling the audit log feature on your printer or copier and regularly reviewing the log can help you detect and respond to potential security incidents.
Treating Network-Enabled Devices Like Any Other Computer on the Network
- Network-enabled printers and copiers should be treated with the same level of security consideration as any other computer on the network.
Purchasing a Device with an EAL2 Common Criteria Certification
- Purchasing a printer or copier that has been certified to meet the EAL2 Common Criteria can provide assurance of the device’s security features.
Improving Printer and Copier Security
Updating Firmware and Software
- Regularly updating the firmware and software of your printer or copier can help protect against vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers.
Using Password Protection
- Using password protection can help prevent unauthorized access to your printer or copier.
Implementing Two-Factor Authentication
- Two-factor authentication, which requires a second form of verification in addition to a password, can provide an additional layer of security.
Encrypting Printer Data
- Encrypting the data sent to and from your printer can help protect against data breaches.
Utilizing Managed Printing Solutions
- Managed printing solutions can provide comprehensive security for your printers and copiers, including regular security updates and monitoring.
Vendor-Specific Security Features
- Different vendors offer different security features for their printers and copiers. It is important to understand the specific features offered by the vendors of your printers and copiers.
- Here’s where you can learn more about the security features of the top 2 popular copier brands in Malaysia.
Real-world Examples of Copier Security Breaches
Let’s look at some real-world examples of copier security breaches to help highlight the importance of printer and copier security.
- CyberNews Printer Hacking Exercise (2020)
- A team of ethical hackers from CyberNews conducted an exercise to highlight the vulnerability of networked printers.
- They found over 800,000 printers worldwide that were potentially vulnerable using a search engine called Shodan.
- The team selected a sample of 50,000 printers and developed a custom script that targeted the printing process without accessing any other features or data on the printers. The script was successful in getting 27,944 printers to print out a PDF guide on printer security, a hit rate of 56%.
- This exercise demonstrated the general lack of protection of networked devices worldwide.
- PewDiePie Printer Hack (2018)
- In 2018, a hacker hijacked around 50,000 printers and forced them to print documents voicing support for controversial YouTuber PewDiePie.
- The hacker used Shodan to identify vulnerable networked printers.
- Despite the widespread attention this incident received, the CyberNews team found that the number of exposed printers remained almost identical two years later, indicating that the problem was largely ignored.
The security of printers and copiers is a critical aspect of overall data security. By understanding the risks and implementing best practices, businesses can significantly reduce the likelihood of a data breach and ensure the safe and secure use of their office equipment.