Modern printers are more efficient and produce better quality than ever before. They’re fully functional computers that connect to the internet and represent one of the most vulnerable operations in any business.

In fact, a recent security survey from Booz Allen Hamilton reports 50% of respondents had a data loss caused by a printer. Reported security breaches included intercepted print jobs (50%), printer hard disk exploits (48%), forwarding documents externally from a printer (44%), and hacking printers for network access (18%).

Security researchers report printers from top manufacturers like Brother, HP, Xerox, Lexmark, Kyocera, and Ricoh can have security vulnerabilities. While all the vulnerabilities found in that study were since patched, it’s only a matter of time before others are discovered. It’s time for business leaders to consider the benefits of managed print services security.

How Printers Became Vulnerable

Today’s printers are more than just the predecessor of the original block-based printing press. At the turn of the century, printers evolved into multifunction machines, capable of printing, scanning, faxing, and copying. Statista estimates there is one printer connected for every thirty people in the world, so these machines are constantly shared.

Meanwhile, the technology in these devices is getting more advanced. Modern printers have processors, onboard memory, and hard drives that rival PCs. Enterprise-grade printers especially have operating systems and app-based software like PCs too. Antivirus software to prevent printer hacking, however, is severely lacking.

This leaves businesses in a precarious position – a company of 3,000 employees has 100 printers, which equates to 100 network-attached security vulnerabilities. Leaving these devices unsecured puts sensitive company and customer data at risk. A data breach can put a company at risk of government fines, public ire, and an average cost of $3.92 million.

Defending against printer hacking is just one of the benefits of managed print services.

How Managed Print Services Security Works

Managed print services proactively and continuously monitors print processes and equipment to optimize resource usage and maintain security. Remote monitoring tracks documents throughout the print queue, preventing unauthorized equipment access, and providing real-time notifications of any issues.

When anomalies arise, such as a printer sending documents to an external server, managed print services security immediately recognizes it and stops the breach. This end-to-end solution can track print usage by employee through controlled access that pinpoints the exact source of any irregular or exorbitant spending.

Companies enjoy the benefits of managed print services, including more efficient printing, automated supply replenishment, and proactive monitoring of data breaches.

How Hackers Attack Printers

Cyberattacks are getting more and more sophisticated, with hackers gaining unprecedented access to business systems. High-tech attacks like botnets, form jacking, and ransomware are estimated to cost $6 trillion in damages by 2021. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) estimates only 10-12% of cybercrimes are reported.

What’s known is that printer hacking involves a variety of exploits. Some are as simple as printing or even taking already-printed documents from unsecured printers. When a printer is left physically unsecured, anyone can access network settings and documents. It’s even possible to gain a network password or access to other devices and computers.

Other cyberattacks involve man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks, where hackers intercept data sent from workstations to printers and vice versa. Social engineering is also commonly used, where a criminal asks for printer access, often while posing as an internal executive, IT administrator, or third-party vendor.

Places Where a Printer Is Vulnerable

There are three key areas where printer hacking occurs, and the benefits of managed print services are having these areas secured and monitored.

1. While the Document Is Digital

Every printed document exists as a digital file first, and corrupting these files can cause a lot of damage to a printer. Modern enterprise printers are capable of much more than printing, and an attacker can compromise an entire business network through malicious executable commands sent from valid workstations.

2. When Sent to Print

Data being sent between a printer and other network devices needs to be encrypted from end to end. This ensures that the data isn’t compromised, even if its intercepted. MitM printer hacking occurs when network printers lack managed print services security and can leave entire enterprise networks vulnerable.

3. Sitting in the Tray

Once a document is printed, it needs to be immediately secured in some manner. Managed print services proactively centralize print jobs into a print queue, so nothing prints until the employee is physically at the printer. This ensures documents aren’t left unsecured and physically stolen.

Businesses are increasingly trusting managed print services security to prevent printer hacking and optimize print operations. Not only does MPS increase printer security, but proactive monitoring of supplies and workloads optimizes budgets and overall efficiency.

Contact a Donnellon McCarthy Enterprises consultant today to learn the benefits of managed print services firsthand. We protect our clients from printer hacking while optimizing efficiency every time.