CLOSING ENTRY: Check printer

Naeran Rubio//February 27, 2023

CLOSING ENTRY: Check printer

Naeran Rubio//February 27, 2023

Cybersecurity threats are on the rise and will continue to increase as our world becomes more digitized. In fact, the 2022 Official Cybercrime Report issued by Cybersecurity Ventures predicted that the global annual cost of cybercrime will reach $8 trillion in 2023. Businesses large and small need to be on guard in today’s hybrid-office, cloud-centric world where employees work from various locations across a variety of devices and connections. While many are aware of cyberthreats such as phishing, malware or ransomware attacks, there is one connected device that is often overlooked when it comes to protection from these threats: the multifunction printer, or MFP.

Printers manage classified data and company information that, if left in the wrong hands, could be detrimental to an organization. Although we are living in a digitized world, printers remain a pivotal tool for employees to have access to, whether they are printing legal documents, HR forms, presentations, or simply meeting notes. With all this data on hand, MFPs can serve as a targeted entry point for cyberattacks, so it’s critical to put the same precautions in place as with other devices in the work environment. A great example of the lack of awareness surrounding printer security was illuminated in 2022 when Cybernews conducted an experiment that targeted 50,000 printers. They were able to hijack nearly 28,000 successfully and shared their findings to spread awareness on the importance of printer security. This exercise showed that not only are printers commonly overlooked when it comes to security protocols, but that it is essential that these devices always be included in the overall umbrella of network security.

The first step to ensure your multifunction printer is properly protected against cybersecurity breaches is to have a unique password for it. – DEPOSIT PHOTOS

So how can you address the issue? The first step to ensure your MFP is properly protected against cybersecurity breaches is to have a unique password for your printer. By now, we all know that easily deciphered passwords can serve as a gateway for hackers. Many of us use complicated codes for our email, bank, or social media accounts to keep personal information safe. The same goes for printers. Printer passwords should be complicated, changed frequently, and shared only with those with administrator rights. Complex codes are a simple way to ensure your organization’s MFP is defending your business against a cyber threat.

Next, since most MFPs today offer cloud storage and connection to email clients, unsecured Wi-Fi networks are open doors for bad actors. To prevent this, IT teams can ensure Wi-Fi and mobile security are properly configured and ensure that their printer is up to date with the latest security features to protect information and document assets. Modern MFPs include multi-layer protection such as application whitelisting which prevents unauthorized files or applications from being loaded; real-time intrusion detection that flags abnormal connect requests and halts access; Bitdefender antivirus, which scans inbound and outbound data for virus activity; and firmware attack prevention that checks for abnormal firmware at startup. These are just some of the security resources that an updated MFP can offer to an organization in order to help them be prepared for a potential threat.

Finally, while it’s important to ensure your MFP is secure, updated and protected from cybersecurity threats, your employees are truly the first line of defense against an attack. Educating them on proper use of network devices and common practices such as changing passwords frequently, identifying and flagging phishing emails, or being mindful of printing private or sensitive information can save your organization from a potential breach. Having an MFP with secure release technology that requires a user to authenticate themselves prior to retrieving the document they printed can be an asset to reduce human error and keep confidential materials safe from getting into the wrong hands.

As our workplace evolves and technology continues to advance, it’s critical for organizations to be on guard and have proper security practices in place. In the next five years, costs incurred due to cybercrime payouts around the world are expected to rise from $8.4 trillion in 2022 to $23.8 trillion by 2027 according to Statista. With this predicted growth, overlooking the security of an MFP that is used by many employees and is connected to a variety of devices can leave it open to potential breaches. Keeping MFPs safe, up to date, and educating employees on printer security are critical steps in ensuring that your organization is best prepared to fight off cybersecurity threats today and tomorrow.

Naeran Rubio is the content and communications associate director for Sharp Imaging and Information Co. of America, a division of Sharp Electronics Corp.

Naeran Rubio is the content and communications associate director for Sharp Imaging and Information Co. of America, a division of Sharp Electronics Corp. Rubio and her team try to educate Sharp customers and the general public about how businesses can help prevent and mitigate cybercrime.