With the influx of new technologies and their corresponding security concerns, it is easy to overlook printers as a potential source of data breaches. However, networked printers can be a gateway into a businesses’ entire system and extensive data and intellectual property can be at risk if measures are not taken to keep things secure. Safeguard confidential material from unauthorized access by using these best practices for printer security:
Set a strong admin password
Printers, copiers, and MFPs generally utilize a web interface that permits configuration and control of the device. Device manufacturers by default do not set passwords so it is the users’ responsibility to be diligent in setting a strong password. Instructions on how to do this can be found on the manufacturers' support website or in the manual provided with the device.
Limit network access to the printer
Use security controls to grant authorized users permission to access the printer. A private IP number can help to secure the printer from unauthorized access outside of the department, institution or business. Note that not all network infrastructure setups allow this, so if a private IP number is not available to you, then utilize other methods to limit access to the printer such as access control lists in the printer configuration. Some network printing devices will include an internal firewall. If this is the case for you, utilize the firewall to only allow authorized traffic to the printer.
Disable any unnecessary services that are running
Many printers will use more than just a web interface. There may be open file shares on the hard drive in the printer, copier or MFP. Disable any services that are not being used. If the web interface is also not needed, consider also disabling the web server.
Implement a process that securely disposes of printers, copiers, and MFPs
Many printing and copying devices include the use of a hard drive to store data. If you are leasing a printer or copier, most vendors will have concessions in the contract regarding disk drive security. If you own the printer, before disposing of the equipment, be sure to securely erase or remove the disk drive so your security is not compromised.
Regularly check for and implement firmware updates
Just like your computer, printers also require firmware updates from time to time. Updating your firmware can make changes to security settings and also help to make your printer run smoother and faster from your computer or print station. In many cases, firmware updates can also decrease paper and ink waste, while increasing print speeds.