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Are You Printing Invitations to Your System?

Printers have been fingered as the weak link in many business and home networks. Most small businesses and home users tend to run their printers into the ground, and the longer they hang around without the latest firmware updates, the more vulnerable they are to a cyber-attack.

You can stop printing invitations to intruders – even with your current, old printer. Let’s start with the firmware. Simply go to your printer manufacturer’s support website and you can see all the firmware and driver updates available for download and installation.

Whether your printer is on a home network or small business network, make sure your firewall software is up to date and that you have a strong, secure network password for each printer. It’s too easy, especially in an office, to use a simple password that everyone can remember and hackers can figure out. And too many, especially in an office, keep their passwords stuck to monitors, where anyone walking by can see them. Your employees and/or family members just need to bite the bullet and remember a strong password – and keep that knowledge to themselves. It’s also worth noting, too, that sometimes the printers don’t even have those default passwords; they have none at all.

You can further restrict access to your printers by properly managing your printer settings and ports. Just as we’ve seen everything related to the IoT, printers can be shipped with default settings controlling printers and default port assignments. Any third-rate hacker can figure them out. You can and should change them immediately when you set the printers up to work on your networks.

Some manufacturers are recognizing the role they can play in protecting your printers. HP recently introduced its Connection Inspector for enterprise systems, and we can only hope the company and other manufacturers start incorporating similar tools for small businesses and homes.

The new tool is designed primarily to combat malware intrusions through printers by looking at unusual behavior on network traffic going to a printer. It learns what “normal” traffic looks like, and when it detects malicious activity, it can immediately go into a protected mode, stopping any further unfamiliar or unusual requests and sending a warning to IT administrators. It can even trigger a reboot of the printer.

We’ll keep an eye on developments in printer security to let you know when tools like Connection Inspector become available for you. There should be an incentive to develop them because more and more professional services corporations and families, especially those with school-age children, rely on remote and/or wireless access to printers to create hard copies of information in a corporate database or a collaborative research project.

In the meantime, we can help you tighten your printer security by looking at your machine’s settings and ports and checking your network’s security, too. We can also help you with the installation of firmware and driver updates. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us for an appointment. It’s time to make sure you’re printing documents, not invitations to enter the inner sanctum of your system.