19

Nov

2019

Eliminating the Weakest Security Link on Your Network

Eliminating the Weakest Security Link on Your Network

How to eliminate printer vulnerabilities as a prime target on your corporate network

When network security breaches hit the news, headlines typically focus on the scale of the breach, the number of records compromised, and the cost of the breach in lawsuits and recovery. What often gets buried in the details is the surprisingly mundane ways hackers find their way into networks to steal data and cause mayhem, including an open door through networked printers.

Until recently, most people would not have considered a printer to be a doorway to their otherwise secure network. But as IT security becomes more hardened, hackers have been creative in finding softer targets. In the last year, attacks on printers as network gateways has exploded, often with dramatic results.

How Networked Printers Can Become an Open Door

Last December, one hacker discovered hundreds of thousands of printers with open network ports on a service called Shodan, which systematically polls every IPv4 address on the internet, tries to log on with manufacturer default passwords, and details any information it can gather including open ports. The hacker selected 50,000 printers with open ports, and sent instructions to every one of them to print a message.

The attack was fairly innocuous--the victims simply saw their printer deliver an unexpected message. But the exploit opened the floodgates for other hackers who would go on expand on the technique to use networked printers as access points to the network. Once on the network, the threats and vulnerabilities become exponential.

Ways Printers Can be Used in Cyberattacks

Using networked printers as an unsecured gateway to a business network is only one kind of vulnerability. Even if hackers aren't able to use your printer as a gateway, there other types of attacks on printers that cause damage and unexpected losses:

  • Printer attacks can be used to intercept documents queued for printing--including contracts, business plans, presentations and personnel matters.
  • Data and documents stored temporarily on printer hard disks can be accessed and stolen.
  • Multi-function printers can be hacked to mail out documents to external sources.
  • Attacks on printers, including mass printing of unexpected documents, can be used to cause a distraction from another kind of attack or crime.

In one recently uncovered case, North Korean hackers regularly disabled the printers used by targeted banks to confirm monetary transfers, while creating transfers of cash into a remote bank account.

Securing Your Printers Against Cyberattacks

The vulnerability of printers has been known for several years, and yet repeated surveys by security firms like Kaspersky show that businesses have been slow to respond with even the most basic security protocols. Here are some of the most important steps to take to secure your printers.

  1. Change the default login credentials.
  2. Monitor security updates for your printers as frequently as you monitor updates for your computers.
  3. Ensure your printers are covered within your network security protocols, including managing open ports.
  4. Disable any networking protocols your employees don't need, like Telnet and FTP.
  5. Isolate your printers on a local network and disable out-of-network connections.
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5

Nov

2019

How to Use Managed Print Services to Optimize Office Efficiency

How to Use Managed Print Services to Optimize Office Efficiency

Standardize and consolidate your use of printers to reduce costs and increase security

As businesses grow, their use of technology changes. New workflows and processes eventually bring new applications and devices, increasingly the complexity of the IT network. In years past, those complexities were manageable. But with increasingly advanced technologies, and the growing security threat to protected data, it's becoming increasingly important for businesses to re-calibrate and re-optimize the technology on their networks. Nowhere is that more true than with print.

Typically as businesses grow, the number and size of their printers grows as well. Desktop printers get added here and there for small workgroups, then multi-function printers and copiers are added to increase capacity. In time, an array of printers is distributed across the network, often with different brands, different inks and toners, and different networking interfaces. While the printers were all sensibly deployed to fill an individual need, over time they become highly inefficient as a group and more vulnerable to attack.

Standardization and Consolidation

Efficiency in printing means users should always print on the device that has the highest rated print volume. Employees may prefer the convenience of desktop printers, but those can cost four or five times more than an appropriate workgroup or multifunction printer. Reducing desktop printers not only saves printing costs for most businesses, it also eliminates unnecessary security vulnerabilities since printers are increasingly proving the weakest link on many corporate networks.

The way to optimize your printing environment is to carefully map out the locations and needs of your users, and redeploy your printers in a way that makes it easy for users to print efficiently. Something as simple as consolidating printers from a lot of desktops to an appropriately sized workgroup printer will generate significant savings in toner, parts and maintenance. As you consolidate, standardizing on a preferred brand will deliver more savings by eliminating the headaches of managing a mixed environment.

Managed Print Services

Discover more about how your business could benefit from our Managed Print Services, contact us today.

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