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Paper Pains  - Is Your Printer Your Weakest Link

Paper Pains: Is Your Printer Your Weakest Security Link?

Could your printers be a security risk?

When it comes to security, the humble office printer can't catch a break. Back when the majority of data breaches were physical, the printer was the number-one scapegoat, belching out potentially-sensitive data at such a rate that the shredding needed its own disposal service. But with the advancement of the tech generation, where data theft migrated to the digital realm, the office printer began to look a little safer.

No such luck. In a report by Quocirca*, it's emerged that 60% of businesses last year were breached through insecure printers, with the average cost per-breach being £313,000!.Considering that 91% of businesses still believe physical print to be relevant to their work, we're not out of the woods yet.

In December last year, an organised hack saw thousands of printers compromised worldwide for an unlikely cause. In an attack since claimed by mysterious Twitter user ‘TheHackerGiraffe’, the printers began cancelling documents and instead producing campaign messages for the popular YouTube star, PewDiePie. The messages were a perhaps-ironic movement to get the YouTube personality to the site’s Number One position.

The real message, however, was to raise awareness of printer security. TheHackerGiraffe had previously warned users of a network port vulnerability on thousands of printers connected to the Internet. In an interview with the Verge, he claimed:

“People underestimate how easy a malicious hacker could have used a vulnerability like this to cause havoc. Hackers could have stolen files, installed malware, caused physical damage to printers and even used the printer as a foothold into an inner network. The most horrifying part is I never considered hacking printers before. The whole learning, downloading and scripting process took no more than 30 minutes”.

With the Internet of Things (IoT), the printer joins the billions of other interconnected devices in the world - and adopts their vulnerabilities as a result. This constant connectivity means that the risks from hackers, malware and other breaches are as uncomfortably present in your printer as they are your servers and hard drives. Meanwhile, any printer not protected by a Secure Print Solution is still churning out documents unsupervised, so those hard-copy concerns remain an unwanted hangover.
Elsewhere in her report, Quocirca Research Director Louella Fernandes notes some troubling statistics on UK businesses. Reportedly, when it comes to our share of print security 'leaders', the UK sits in bottom place with a meagre 18%. With America's world-leading share doubling that at 36%, it's clear we have much left to learn.
The report also notes that 62% of organisations use Managed Print Solutions to keep their hard data safe, but that number should arguably be rising. With the unanimous verdict that a Managed Print Solution increases print security, it should be an integral part of your office environment.
As Managed Print experts, we know that - despite some reports - print isn't going away; and as the whirr of the feeder and the smell of hot ink endures, so too does the threat to office security. But with a Managed Print Solution, a dedicated Cyber-Security plan, and some time-honoured user knowledge, you can avoid a panicked rush to the shredder.

If your business has a Managed Print need, or its Security Solution could do with a check-up, give the MTeam a shout.


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