Way before COVID-19 hit our shores, a group presenting at the DefCon Security Conference of 2019 demonstrated how easily flawed office printers were for hackers to target.

The researchers involved found more than 45 different vulnerabilities in devices made by some of the largest printer manufacturers and demonstrated how they could be used to siphon sensitive print jobs; be turned into botnets, or simply be taken offline.

Then, COVID-19 arrived, abruptly disrupting the way we do business by forcing a shift to remote work situations across the nation. This trend is here to stay for the foreseeable future, with companies investing money into employees’ home offices to enable them to continue to work from home productively.

Alongside the move to home-based workplaces in an understandable increase in company spending on printers. In 2020 alone, sales of printers are estimated to increase by 15% in response to this increased need.

Another trend that factors into the work-from-home security equation is the proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT) devices and their use by home workers. Typical vulnerabilities result in this area through:

  • Weak passwords
  • Lack of security updates
  • Non Secure data transfer mechanisms
  • Lack of device management
  • Nonsecure default settings
  • Non Secure network services or ecosystem interfaces
  • Outdated components

Depending on the technology, office printers can also be classified — and used — as IoT devices, a scary thought when you consider how many of these printers are now residing in someone’s home without IT or security oversight.

Print Security for the Remote Office

While print security is a necessity for a fully protected and compliant office environment, it is even more critical when your business consists of a network of work-from-home staff.

Each of their stand-alone print devices may offer hackers an enticing portal to your sensitive data — and even your infrastructure.

To keep home-based print devices secured, consider the following protocols:

  1. Update Firmware

Updates provide security patches that correct and remove vulnerabilities as they are discovered. Use your printer or computer’s inherent software to check for firmware updates on a regular basis.

  1. Don’t Use a Home Network

If your printer is connected to a home network, any hacker that gets into your printer can go deeper into your infrastructure to seek, destroy, or control data.

While wireless printing may be convenient, a direct USB connection provides another layer of security between hackers and your sensitive information.

  1. Remote Access? Password Protect It

Managing your printer through a web interface is convenient, but it opens another avenue for hackers to gain access to your printer — and network.

Password-protecting this feature prevents anyone who discovers the IP address of your printer from making changes to it.

  1. Consider Physical Security

The physical theft of your computer or your printer can put sensitive company data at risk, particularly if you work in a shared area such as an apartment or dormitory.

Keep devices located away from any area where they are exposed to line-of-sight detection and try to find an area where you can lock away devices after you are done working with them.

  1. Use Advanced Printer Security

Consider using a print device with advanced security features and opt for additional preventative security measures such as firewalls on your computer and router.

Deploying one or more of these printer safety tips will help protect your printer — and company data — from malicious intent or bad actors.

First Phase Data Has Partnered with Zebra to Bring You the Most Options

At First Phase Data, we understand the value of robust IT — and printer — security. That is why we have partnered with industry-leading printer manufacturers like HP that put a priority on print security.

HP printers provide the world’s most secure printing solutions — an important feature when you consider that 55% of printers are behind in security patches and 59% of businesses reported at least one incidence of print-related data loss in the last year.

Our other partners, Lexmark and Xerox, have strong reputations for print security as well.

Lexmark concentrates on the intentional design of hardware and software components for increased and complete security of your print environment, while Xerox focuses on exceeding industry standards for security features and technologies associated with their printers.

All of our partners put a premium on protecting your print environment with the latest, and most effective, state-of-the-art cybersecurity protocols.

Provide your remote work — or office — staff with the highest level of print security available in the industry. Contact First Phase Data today and choose a versatile — and secure — printer from one of our security-conscious partners.