Close the networked printer loophole to prevent data breaches

As new technologies such as the Internet of Things and the rapid proliferation of internet and cloud-enabled devices, new security risks are being introduced. Each new device that’s connected to the internet creates another potential entry point into the corporate network, giving malicious hackers more opportunities to gain unauthorised access.

Businesses therefore need to temper their adoption of new technologies with a sophisticated approach to cybersecurity.

We are all well aware of the need to secure desktop and laptop computers, and most business users have a password on their smartphone. But most of us seem to overlook a key area of potential vulnerability: the networked printer. This vulnerability isn’t just theoretical. In fact, a recent report suggested that more than 60 per cent of large enterprises have already suffered at least one data breach through insecure printing.

Australian businesses are subject to a range of legislations covering the disclosure of private or sensitive information. The Privacy Act holds businesses responsible for protecting personal information about individuals and a breach carries potential fines. A recent amendment to the Act requires most of them to provide notice to the Australian Information Commissioner and affected individuals if a data breach has occurred.

The cost of a data breach can be significant in terms of fines and lost business, as well as the ongoing damage to the business’s reputation. There is a clear business imperative to make sure systems are secure and data is safe. Consequently, organisations must include print security as a key pillar of their overarching cybersecurity strategies.

We recommend businesses choose print management and hardware with strong security features including authentication requirements that only let authorised users access the networked printer and printouts. Businesses should also educate everyone in the team about the need for a strong cybersecurity posture, including raising awareness about the risks of networked printers and mobile printing.

Security is strongest in businesses that have an ingrained culture of security. They need to build that culture across all elements of their network and infrastructure, remembering that printers form a key part of that infrastructure. While networked printers do present a vulnerability, businesses can take simple steps to secure them and close the gap.

Adam O’Neill, Managing Director – Australia, Y Soft