When you mention cybersecurity, anyone around you will think about computers and phones but rarely about printers. This is because hackers are mainly known to attack computers and phones as opposed to printers and other machines. As a result, apps and programs have been widely designed to block malware and spyware. In the recent past, this would be excusable because printers were primitive, unlike today when printers are highly advanced. Unfortunately, the development of printers has made them a target of hackers, risking the security of the organization.
For instance, late last year, there was a fuss going around in social media regarding a popularity contest on YouTube. As it was later revealed, there had been a hack that affected thousands of printers which were all inter-connected across different countries. All of these printers produced a similar printout that campaigned for subscriptions towards the YouTube popularity competition. Below is the image of the unsolicited printouts.
After this hack attracted enough attention, the hacker, TheHackerGirrafe, claimed responsibility and said that he did that to awaken consciousness regarding printer security. “Honestly, I am a huge fan of Pewds to start with. I engineered this hack with an attempt to help him remain number one,” said TheHackerGirrafe. This incident, for example, clearly illustrates how easy it is to interfere with the functioning of the modern printer. Fortunately, the hacker, who facilitated the production of these unsolicited printouts had no malicious intentions other than trying to maximize the subscriptions of a YouTube personality.
From this incident, you would be right to say that to most people, printer security is not a concern or it is an afterthought. Is it possible that these devices could be the most overlooked high tech gadgets in the business world today? Modern printers are network connected and powerful devices that actually feature similar vulnerabilities, as well as, liabilities as network computers.
Therefore, since printers process very confidential information, a possible hack can lead to a catastrophic exposure of sensitive information. Even in such an occurrence, organizations or individuals waking up to this reality would still rush and reinforce network security and workstation while unfortunately overlooking connected gadgets like printers.
It is by default that printers feature easy configuration and access on a corporate setting. This is a default state that makes the gadget convenient for users but again, it makes printers vulnerable to hackers and other malicious people. Bearing in mind that not all hacks could be harmless pranks, there is need to consider printers as subjects to cybercrime, in order to adequately protect them.
Poorly secured printers give hackers an opportunity to view sensitive information, steal intellectual property, print unsolicited printouts, view documents or even inject malware. If any of these happens, the consequences can be even worse.
Luckily, there are means of managing printer security in corporate, business and personal settings. They include;
- Cloud storage
- Use security as a Launchpad
- Buy printers from reliable and well-known brands
In many companies, the printing system could be the weakest link in the midst of a reliable security chain. Fortunately, the case is not hopeless because reinforcement is effortless. With little prep work and consultation, you will attain the freedom and flexibility to concentrate on the main business while trusting that your printing system is not compromised.
Featured image via http://info.zenosolutions.com/blog/are-your-printers-a-security-risk