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Unveiling the Multifunction Printer as a Top Business Cybersecurity Threat
It’s October again which means it’s officially #CybersecurityAwarenessMonth. 2023 marks the 20th anniversary of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and instead of the typical theme to celebrate, instead this year’s celebration will focus on four key behaviors for the entire month – 1) enabling multi-factor authentication, 2) using strong passwords, 3) updating software, and 4) recognizing/reporting phishing. To kick off Cybersecurity Awareness month, we’re going to focus on how the multifunction printer is actually a top business cybersecurity threat.
While multifunction printers are an invaluable piece of office technology and a staple in the workplace, these versatile machines can pose a significant risk to business cybersecurity if not configured correctly. Keep reading as we delve into why multifunction printers have risen to become a top business cybersecurity threat and steps you can take to mitigate these risks effectively.
How Multifunction Printers Have Become a Top Business Cybersecurity Threat
Multifunction printers (MFPs) have undergone a remarkable transformation, integrating various functions such as printing, scanning, copying, and faxing. However, this increased functionality also comes with an expanded attack surface, making them vulnerable to cybercriminals. Here’s why multifunction printers are now a major business cybersecurity concern:
Network Connectivity: Modern MFPs are connected to office networks, often without proper security protocols in place. This connection can be exploited by cybercriminals to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data or launch attacks within the network. In fact, in an experiment conducted by the CyberNews security team, over 800,000 networked printers were found to be accessible over the internet. After selecting a sample of 50,000 open printers, they successfully hijacked 27,944 printers (≈ 56%) and forced the devices to print out a short 5-step guide on printer security.
Data Storage: MFPs possess internal storage that retains scanned, copied, and printed documents. If not adequately secured, this data can be accessed by unauthorized individuals, leading to data breaches and leaks. This is especially harmful for organizations that use personally identifiable information (PII) such as healthcare, education, and legal institutions.
Outdated Software: Many MFPs run on outdated software (cue key behavior #3 of this year’s cybersecurity awareness month!), making them susceptible to known vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit.
Lack of Awareness: Often overlooked by businesses, MFPs are rarely perceived as cybersecurity risks. This lack of awareness can make them prime targets for cybercriminals seeking an entry point into a business network.
How to Conquer MFPs as a Top Business Cybersecurity Threat
The first step towards remedying any issue is acknowledgement. Recognizing the threat that MFPs pose in the workplace is the first step towards mitigating MFPs as a top cybersecurity threat. The next step is to put strategies and protocols in place to proactively defend yourself again MFP-related cybersecurity threats.
Implement Strong Access Controls: Going hand-in-hand with multi-factor authentication and using strong passwords, it’s important to restrict access to MFPs by implementing strong authentication methods such as PINs, biometric scans, or badge printing. Only authorized personnel should be allowed to operate the device. Check out Xerox’s secure print feature!
Regular Firmware Updates: Work with MFP manufacturers or your print provider to ensure that the devices are running the latest firmware. This helps patch known vulnerabilities and ensures that the device is equipped with the latest security features.
Network Segmentation: Separate your MFPs from critical business systems by creating network segments. This reduces the potential impact of a breach and prevents lateral movement by attackers.
Data Encryption: Ensure that all data transmitted to and from the MFPs is encrypted. This prevents eavesdropping and unauthorized access to sensitive information.
Routine Security Audits: Conduct regular security audits of your MFPs to identify potential vulnerabilities. Address any issues promptly and monitor the devices for unusual activity.
Employee Training: Educate your employees about the potential risks associated with MFPs and encourage best practices, such as not leaving sensitive documents in the output tray and properly logging out after using the device.
Third-party Security Solutions: Consider deploying third-party security solutions designed specifically for MFPs. These solutions can add an extra layer of protection and help detect and prevent cyber threats.
Partner with an Experienced Print Provider to Defend Against MFP Cybersecurity Threats
At Parmetech, we’re focused on matching our customers with affordable, reliable, and secure office technology solutions and equipment – including multifunction printers. Once a multifunction printer becomes integrated with your organization’s network, it poses itself as a potential security risk if not configured properly. By working with an experience partner like Parmetech, we can be proactive in ensuring that your MFP always had the latest firmware and security updates, help you set up and control user access, and implement protocols and workflows to ensure your device(s) is protected against cybersecurity attacks and malware. If you’re ready to protect your business and your multifunction printer(s) against top cybersecurity threats, get in touch with the team at Parmetech today! Give us a call today at (800) 727-6383, email us at email@example.com, or connect with us via our website to get started.