Your office printer might not appear to pose much of a security threat. But if left unprotected, it may in fact present a serious risk to your network and resources.

For example, with access to a networked printer, an unauthorised user can discover device configurations, network information and user credentials. This is because printers are often installed with access to multiple network subnets.

This enables different departments to use them but also makes the printer a target for potential hackers to plant Wi-Fi devices, sniff traffic and access system passwords.

Smart multi-function printers (MFPs) offer the same potential for harm. Unlike older printers, MFPs make a digital copy of each document before it’s printed or sent over email. If left unprotected, this information is vulnerable to being hacked.

This vulnerability is reflected in the statistics. According to Quocirca, 63 percent of businesses experience one or more print-related data breaches every year. But even so, IDC found that more than half of companies have no print security strategy in place.

But the situation doesn’t have to be all that daunting for businesses – solutions are out there. These five simple steps could prove invaluable to safeguarding your printer network.

  1. Use digital certificates: these will allow your device to trust and validate the credentials of another system on the network
  2. Implement IP address and port filtering: filtering increases control over network device activity and is used to configure devices and filter out traffic on specific network ports.
  3. Ensure Fax/ Network separation: this means that any interaction between the modem and network adapter is prevented. The modem will only accept image data from a fax transmission.
  4. Make sure you have wired and wireless 802.1x support: 802.1x port authentication allows printers and MFPs to join wired and wireless networks via authentication.
  5. Introduce encryption: this will secure network traffic to and from devices with encryption and authentication, protecting print data and the contents of jobs that are scanned to any destination.

With businesses looking to support BYOD initiatives, they must give their users the tools they need to boost efficiency, while at the same time minimising the risk of intrusion across networks and connections.

Lexmark’s understanding of network environments and relevant security threats, particularly in relation to printing, gives us the know-how to create unique solutions that secure your data.

This is a capability we’ve proven by overcoming security challenges in some of the most highly regulated organizations and industries worldwide.

With cyber-attacks like WannaCry becoming more common, it’s crucial that businesses look closely at all their digital on-ramps.

Following these tips can help provide real insight into your business’ security needs, and make your printing environment that much safer.

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