In today's digital age, cyber-attacks have become a significant threat to organizations and individuals alike. While most people focus on securing their computers and networks, many often overlook the vulnerabilities of seemingly innocuous devices, such as printers. However, printers can be a weak link in your security chain, providing an entry point for cybercriminals to exploit.
It is crucial to implement preventive measures to safeguard these devices and prevent potential cyber-attacks.
Four simple yet effective steps to bolster printer security
1. Eliminate End-of-Life Devices and Protocols
Outdated printers and unsupported protocols pose a considerable security risk. Manufacturers regularly release firmware updates to address security vulnerabilities and improve overall device performance. When a printer reaches its end-of-life (EOL), it is no longer eligible for updates, leaving it exposed to potential exploits.
To prevent cyber-attacks on printers, it is essential to phase out EOL devices from your network. Replace them with newer models that receive regular security updates. Moreover, ensure that all printers support the latest and most secure communication protocols, such as Secure Socket Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS).
2. Segment Printer Networks
Network segmentation is a fundamental strategy to enhance overall cybersecurity. It involves dividing a network into smaller subnetworks or segments, each with specific access rights and security controls. By segmenting printer networks, you isolate them from other critical systems, limiting the potential attack surface for cybercriminals.
Implementing virtual local area networks (VLANs) for printers is an effective way to achieve network segmentation. By doing so, you can assign printers to separate VLANs, ensuring that unauthorized users cannot access sensitive data through these devices. Additionally, this prevents lateral movement for attackers who gain access to one part of the network.
3. Monitor Printer Networks from the Perimeter
Real-time monitoring is vital to identifying and responding promptly to potential threats. Organizations should deploy Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) or Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) at the network perimeter to monitor printer-related traffic. These systems can detect suspicious activities, such as unauthorized access attempts or unusual data transfer patterns, and raise alerts for immediate action.
Moreover, enabling comprehensive logging and auditing on printers can help in post-incident analysis and forensic investigations, should a breach occur. Analyzing printer logs can provide insights into potential attack vectors and patterns, enabling organizations to fine-tune their security measures.
4. Run Regular Scans to Identify New or Vulnerable Devices
Cyber threats are ever-evolving, and new vulnerabilities may arise over time. Regular vulnerability scanning of printer networks is crucial to identify any new devices connected to the network or detect potential weaknesses in existing ones. Automated scanning tools can help administrators discover printers with outdated firmware or unpatched vulnerabilities.
By performing these scans proactively, IT teams can prioritize security updates and ensure that all printers remain protected against known exploits. Additionally, vulnerability scans can uncover potential misconfigurations that might be leveraged by attackers to compromise the printers.
Although printers are often overlooked as potential targets for cyber-attacks, they can serve as an entry point for malicious actors to breach your organization's security. Any device that connects to the internet is vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
Implementing simple yet effective preventive measures can significantly reduce the risk of printer-related cyber-attacks. By eliminating end-of-life devices, segmenting printer networks, monitoring printer networks from the perimeter, and running regular vulnerability scans, organizations can fortify their printer security and bolster their overall cybersecurity posture. Taking these steps will not only protect sensitive data but also safeguard the reputation and credibility of the organization in the face of ever-evolving cyber threats.
Need help implementing these four safeguards?
Give us a call. At TotalCare IT, we help our clients maintain secure printing programs. We monitor the network for you, segment devices, and make sure everything is up to date. The more you do to protect your business network, the better chance you have in the fight against cybercrime.