Hackers Are Targeting Printers – How to Be Protected from Cyber Attacks

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Hackers Are Targeting Printers – How to Be Protected from Cyber Attacks

As a business owner, you have enough on your plate without having to deal with a cyberattack by unscrupulous hackers. Cybersecurity is becoming even more important as hacking picks up, much of it directed towards printers.

If you don’t have a cybersecurity plan in place for your printers and networks, then your company could be at risk for a security breach. Fortunately, hackers can be blocked from accessing your systems – if you know what to do or where to get help.

Hacking is most definitely on the rise – and everyone is vulnerable. In June 2020, for example, hackers got access to the systems of the printing company Xerox and threatened to leak stolen files unless a ransom was paid. Xerox is just one of many large companies targeted by ransomware thieves.

The Amazing Cybersecurity Story of 28,000 Printers Being Hijacked by White-Hat Hackers
The best way to illustrate the vulnerability of printers and multifunction printers is to prove it – and this was accomplished in the summer of 2020 by cybersecurity experts at CyberNews.

What did they do? The Cybernews white hat hackers used IoT (Internet of Things) search engines to scan for open printer ports. (White hat hackers are hackers who are using their hacking skills for good.) The team found a whopping 800,000 printers that had Internet-accessible network printing features enabled. This isn’t a guarantee that all these printers were hackable, but the organization calculated that probably 500,000 of them could have been targeted for hacking.

The cyberhacking team then targeted 50,000 printers out of the entire batch. They were able to hijack and print out a PDF document on almost 28,000 unprotected printers.

This is of course a huge problem. While these white hat hackers only used their exploit to print out a warning to the targeted printers, they could have done real damage.

Printing companies like HP and Canon have been working to make their products more secure. For example, HP has been taking aggressive steps to not only educate its printer users about security but to improve the security of its products. Canon has also put resources into amping up cybersecurity, particular for the medical field, which is at high risk for cyberattacks.

How Managed Print Services Can Help Stop Cyberattacks
One of the main problems is that no matter what cybersecurity measures are available on Xerox or HP printers, if you don’t utilize those options properly, your printers could be at risk from hackers. This is why it is helpful to have a cybersecurity expert managing your printing systems. The problem is, a lot of small businesses don’t have the resources to hire a full-time IT administrator who can keep up with all the latest threats from hackers.

This is where managed print services come in. With a managed print services solution, your printers will be taken care of by experts.

One of the most important features of managed print services is visibility. This means that printers are remotely monitored, in a secure fashion, to make sure that everything is functioning properly. Access controls can be put into place to ensure that the right people access the right documents from the right printers.

Access control is very important, because cybersecurity for printers isn’t just about open Internet ports. It’s also possible for hackers to get in via Bluetooth or WiFi.

But beyond that, printers can have sensitive information in their buffers, not to mention the sensitive information that could be on a printed document. With the right access controls in place, you won’t have unauthorized staff members (or anyone else) plucking confidential documents directly off the computer (or pulling the data out of the printer buffer).

For many SMBs, having a qualified tech staff take care of printer security through managed print services can make a huge difference.


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