How to secure your office printer network

When it comes to office security, printers are often overlooked but they could prove to be your business’ Achilles heel. Make sure you follow these six tips

With the recent hacks into the Talk Talk website, companies of all sizes have redoubled the security of their computer systems, servers and cloud storage networks – in a bid to protect themselves from similar attacks.

However, one vital office-based network which is often overlooked is the printer network – a potential weak point which hackers and cyber criminals could target if the security is not robust enough.

However, the following tips could help tighten up the security of the printer network and reduce the risk that it could prove to be your company’s Achilles heel.

Purchase using security-based parameters

With thousands of different models available to buy from dozens of respected brands and manufacturers, there are a myriad of different factors to influence your decision when choosing a printer. One of the most important factors should be the security features and functions which are offered by the different machines.

Try and identify printers which implement a number of different security features such as PIN protection, automatic hard-drive wipes and manufacturer guarantees. This can help protect the printer network and the office at multiple levels.

Install branded security

All the world’s leading printer manufacturers have identified the potential dangers of hackers entering networked printers and have acted to ensure their products are protected from such attacks. This makes it important to install all branded security options which are made available when investing in a printer, many of which will be completely free extras.

The branded security options will be designed especially for your machine, so will compliment the software and address any potential weak spots.

Keep the printer updated

Never ones to rest on their laurels, hackers and cyber criminals are constantly devising new methods to attack networked systems.

This means that more and more advanced threats will be developed and released over time, making it vitally important to keep your machine updated. Security companies and manufacturers work tirelessly to counter these threats, releasing regular updates for users.

This makes it important that you don’t simply dismiss invites to update your printer as a nuisance – and install those which will protect your machine. Software updates are important for computers, and the same logic must be applied for printers on a network.

Complement with third party security

Whilst manufacturer-specific security installations can perfectly compliment your machine, there is still value in third party programmes. Many of these security teams will have developed their own patents and technologies to offer greater protection against specific threats.

Printer consumables specialist Toner Giant explains: “Third party companies can often stand back from the printing industry and produce technologies, products and services with a greater scope and awareness of the threats at hand.”

Regular, complete training

You can implement security features and software until you’re blue in the face and your machine is fit to burst, but it could all prove redundant if your team do not respect the potential risks. Organise and manage regular training sessions to ensure the entire team is familiar with correct printer use, and are using them to a safe and professional standard.

Additionally, it is important to implement named access to the printer to add culpability to all operation. If users know they can be identified for misusing the printer, they will be more inclined to follow the letter of the law.

Wipe the drive

An investigation on US television demonstrated the importance of wiping a printer’s hard drive. Hackers were able to access the network and subsequently the hard drive, copying all the information saved from previous prints.

If you are printing private information, it is vitally important that you wipe the hard drive (instructions should be found in the user manual) so this info will not fall into the wrong hands.

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