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May 26, 2023

Secure Printing: Mitigating the Silent Threat to Data Security

In today’s world, almost all devices are connected to the internet, meaning security measures must be taken for all devices and endpoints. Unfortunately, the security of certain devices, such as printers, is often overlooked. Let’s consider a scenario:  
Imagine the printers in your office begin to print out random and suspicious messages. Initially, you may not think much of it, but if it continues, you could be facing a serious issue. By the time you realize that your printers have been hacked, it could be too late. SecurePrintingBlogGraphic1While receiving suspicious printouts is problematic, hackers are typically after your company’s data, which can expose your entire organization. 
Now what could be more embarrassing than getting hacked through your printers because they weren’t properly secured? Maybe getting hacked through the smart refrigerator in the office kitchen? Regardless, it’s of equal importance to secure all endpoints on your network.  

The Importance of Secure Printing

Printers have evolved from mere document output devices to sophisticated multifunctional hubs that handle sensitive data. Last year, CyberNews conducted an ethical hacking experiment that targeted 50,000 printers, successfully hacking 56% of them. This experiment clearly demonstrates the vital importance of securing your printers for the following reasons: 

  1. Confidentiality
    Printed documents can contain sensitive information such as financial data, employee records, or proprietary company data. Without proper security measures, unauthorized individuals can gain access to printed documents, leading to data breaches and potential legal consequences.
  2. Compliance
    Various industries must comply with stringent regulations regarding data privacy and protection. Secure printing helps organizations adhere to these standards, avoiding penalties and reputational damage.
  3. Intellectual Property Protection
    Companies invest significant resources in research and development. Unsecured printers can lead to interception of intellectual property without detection.

Identifying Printer Security Vulnerabilities 


Printers, like any other network-connected device, are susceptible to vulnerabilities that can be exploited by malicious actors. Understanding these vulnerabilities is crucial to implementing effective security measures:


  1. Unauthorized Access
    Printers connected to the network can be accessed by unauthorized users who exploit weak or default passwords.  
  2. Firmware Exploits
    Outdated printer firmware can contain vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit to gain control over the device, allowing them to execute unauthorized commands or install malicious software. 
  3. Malware and Ransomware Attacks
    Printers can be targeted with malware or ransomware, compromising their functionality and potentially spreading the infection to other devices on the network.  
  4. Lack of Encryption
    Printers often transmit data over the network without encryption, making it easier for hackers to intercept and capture sensitive information being sent for printing. 

Taking Proactive Measures for Printer Security  

  1. User Authentication and Access Control
    Implement strong authentication mechanisms, such as username/password combinations, smart cards, or biometrics, to restrict access to printers. Users should only be granted the necessary privileges based on their roles. 
  2. Regular Firmware Updates
    Keep printer firmware up to date to patch known vulnerabilities and ensure the latest security enhancements are in place. 
  3. Network Security Configurations
    Configure printers to operate on secure network settings, including encryption protocols, virtual LANs (VLANs), and firewall rules. Segregating printers from other critical network segments adds an extra layer of protection. 
  4. Printer Monitoring and Auditing
    Implement monitoring and auditing mechanisms to track printer activity, detect anomalies, and identify potential security breaches or unauthorized access attempts. 

By implementing these measures, you can significantly enhance the security of your printers and protect your organization from potential breaches and data loss. Secure printing practices should be an integral part of your overall cybersecurity strategy. Need a simple way to adopt many of these mitigation measures at once? Implement a print management solution.   

To learn more about endpoint security and the importance of securing your network, download Tricerat's Guide to Endpoint Security. Don't let your company become the victim of a humiliating printer hack. Take proactive steps to protect your organization's cybersecurity today. 

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