Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Office printer security

Early printers had a simple function; they turned soft copy into hard copies. Because of this, even as modern manufacturers enable more and more advanced features, people rarely consider print machines as a potential security liability. But with office workers routinely using company machines to print documents with sensitive information, and the prevalence of storage and networking options, printer security has evolved as a real issue which business owners need to address.

What Can Happen?

Many printers these days are like a mini-computing system with hard drives and operating systems and web interfaces. That means that like computers they can be hacked for stored data and are more vulnerable to unauthorized access than actual company computers. Also, a person can simply pick up a document from the printer, especially as printing this days does not require proximity.

More and more printers these days have Internet access, and that in itself is a potential hot spot for security breaches. An unsecured printer can be used to re-route documents, access copies on the printer hard drive, or wipe out data and settings on the printer network. This makes it possible to steal documents or change them before them getting to their destination, which poses a problem for any business.

How to Secure a Printer

A printer can be secured with software, but there are physical ways to keep your documents from being accessed by unauthorized people too.

  • Strategic Location
Placing printers in places where they are easily visible and can be monitored more effectively helps lower the chances that they would be tampered with, or that documents would stolen as they are printed.
  • Designated Printers
Separating printers that can be used with regular documents and printers that are routinely used for sensitive information is helpful. Then a fewer number of printers would have access to important business data. This allows the business to eliminate unnecessary security resources on shared printers and concentrate on tight protection of those which print sensitive documents and data.
  • PINs and Passwords
Password-protecting a printer is a smart idea. Many printers manufactured for business and enterprise purposes have advanced control panel functions that can be set to prevent others from accessing the settings and changing them. Printers that require a user to provide identification, like PINs and passwords, are much more secure than others.
  • Securing Network Traffic
A determined individual can get past a password, so layer your printer defences. A printer that is connected to the Internet should have some way to regulate Web access. There are ways of encrypting a print server connection. You can always access a print server though SSL or SSH encrypted connections. Not all printers have these options, so check if the printer you are buying has encryption and web security options.
Another way to strengthen Web security for your printer is limiting the people that can access the printer via the Internet. If a printer supports Access Control Lists (ACL) then it is possible for a business to do this. Of course, making the company firewalls cover the servers or web connections for printers is another way to secure company data.
  • Upgrades and Updates
Upgrades and updates to printer software and firmware keeps the printer secure by adding new security or improving safety features. Software evolves all the time, and many companies send out software patches from time to time to take care of various security flaws or other issues that are discovered.
Don’t let your office printers become too outdated; there are better and more secure options every five or ten years or so. When it comes time to get rid of an old printer, make sure to wipe or remove the storage drives to ensure that company data is not getting into unsecured hands.

Author Bio:-

Rocky Pooh is a University Lecturer and content writer for world news. He loves to write on technical topics like the latest news. He is writing from last three years.


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