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The Printer; The Often-Forgotten Security Hole

IDG Contributing Editor | July 3, 2017
IT decision makers are rightfully concerned about PC security, but only 18 percent are concerned about printer security ...

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When it comes to security, the challenge that organisations face into the future cannot be underestimated, particularly in terms of raw scale. There’s just so much stuff to lock down that it is difficult to really comprehend the scope of just what in a business will need securing. According to IDC’s research, there are going to be 25 billion “connected things” in companies in just 3 years’ time. In addition, 71 per cent of breaches start from the endpoint. 

What that means is by 2020 the threats facing businesses from their devices will be impossibly vast.  Attempting to secure all of an organisation’s devices will be easier said than done… but it can be achieved.

“In May, over 150 countries were attacked by ransomware,” according to Lionel Chng, the Managing Director of HP Inc. Singapore. One of the challenges that many organisations face when it comes to security is a lack of awareness for just where the threats are coming from. As the workplace develops a proliferation of end-point devices, with the Internet of Things (IoT) connecting everything down to a coffee machine, the level of endpoint security required escalates, and yet indications are that organisations aren’t really aware of how vulnerable they’re leaving their environments. One startling statistic, for example, is that 91 percent of IT decision makers are rightfully concerned about PC security, but only a small 18 percent of them are concerned about printer security. This is despite the printer being an endpoint that is connected to almost everything within the organisation. 

IT managers should be very concerned about their printer’s security. Earlier this year a “friendly” hacker caused 150,000 printers worldwide to start spitting out pages telling the organisation that their printer was compromised and needed to be secured. This was, supposedly, done as a gesture of goodwill by the hacker in raising awareness that the printers were not secure, but with awareness within the hacker community that printers are often unsecure now running high, it’s increasingly likely that an organisation’s printer will be the first targeted by a hacker looking for an “in” into the organisation. 

Businesses need to work with their hardware providers to ensure that their printers are properly secured. There are a couple of key points that organisations should be on the lookout for with regards to printer security, and often these can be managed in collaboration with the vendor and supplier. Joe Wagle, WW Director Security & Industry Consulting HP Inc., said it’s important that your network is equipped with cyber resilience, detection, protection, auto recovery and the ability to isolate threats. 


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