Possible Threats and Vulnerabilities for Printers You May Not Know

Many companies go to great lengths to protect data on computer hard drives or applications while paying little attention to the security risks posed by business printers. Since many printed documents contain sensitive data, not protecting printers could be a security breach waiting to happen. One of the most obvious ways this can occur is when employees, customers, or clients try to read documents that don’t concern them or actually steal these documents.

To prevent document snooping or theft, company executives should move all printers that are out in the open to a more secure area. This could be an unused storage room, a private office, or any place that people need a key to access. Also, no one should be able to move a printer without physically unlocking it first.

Require Authentication to Print or Pick Up Documents

Another way to reduce the viewing of confidential documents by unauthorized people is to require anyone who requests a print job to enter an authentication code before sending it to the printer. When that person picks up the print job, he or she can be required to swipe an employee badge to claim ownership of it. This also cuts down on unnecessary printing that wastes paper and ink. Such security measures are especially important for financial company employees who print checks and other confidential financial documents.

Prevent Network or Internet Hacking

If a company’s printers are connected to a network, it isn’t difficult for unauthorized people to hack into it. This is especially true of printers that are not protected by a password or older models lacking recent security features. While this is problematic, attacks from outside of a business network are even more of a threat.

When company printers are connected to the Internet, there is nearly unlimited potential for hacking. People who are intent on disrupting the business could wipe out saved copies of documents, change the printer’s LCD readout or pre-determined settings, or launch a denial of service attack that causes printers to lock up entirely. This is why it is essential for anyone with administrative privileges to use an encrypted connection when accessing settings.

Security When Disposing of an Old Printer

When a company purchases new printers, it’s very important to make sure that the internal hard drive is clear on discarded models. The documentation that came with the printer should provide instructions on how to clear the hard drive. If a business fails to do this, the data saved on the printer may get into the wrong hands and leave it vulnerable to a lawsuit.


“Your Printer Could Be a Security Sore Spot,” PCWorld, http://www.pcworld.com/article/254518/your_printer_could_be_a_security_sore_spot.html

“Best practices for printer security,” Network World, http://www.networkworld.com/article/2190118/lan-wan/best-practices-for-printer-security.html

“Secure Check Flow,” TROY Group, http://www.troygroup.com/products/software/securecheckflow.aspx 

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