In the middle of 2020, cybersecurity experts at CyberNews proved that close to one million printers across the globe were a wide open door for hackers. The implications of this risk are severe: in 2016 North Korea nearly pulled off a $1 billion heist on Bangladesh’s national bank through a rogue printer by impersonating the U.S. Federal Reserve and sending fake faxes ordering money wires. The Bangladesh bank was able to recover most of the funds it transferred, but still lost millions.
Printers don’t tend to be top of mind in the cybersecurity conversation—if included at all. News about security breaches typically focuses on the impact and damage done, but overlooks the alarmingly easy ways that hackers infiltrate networks. In the Bangladesh bank’s case, the hackers barely had to infiltrate the network and relied on bank employees uneducated in cyberattacks to do the rest of the work for them.
With increased cloud and edge computing and the influx in endpoint devices brought on by the pandemic, federal agencies have more weak points than ever in their networks. Hackers have more avenues to attack through and are increasingly bold in their methods. Government agencies and employees should be educated about printer hacks and equipped with the right tools for defense against them.
Printers tend to have easily identifiable IP addresses and little in the way of security software. They’re further appealing to hackers because they’re often used to print confidential or classified information and can store that data in their memory. Hackers can easily intercept sensitive data through an unsecured printer or can move laterally from the printer to other devices within the network.
Other methods that make printers appealing for attacks include the ease with which a hacker could mail documents to external sources from a multi-function printer, or overload the system with mass print jobs to cause confusion or distraction while another sort of attack is carried out. During the pandemic, the GSA mandated that all remote federal workers be fully equipped to work from home with appropriate office supplies—including printers. The risk of a severe government security breach brought on by a printer has only increased.
The first step in avoiding a printer hack is to educate employees. For both central office printers and home printers, login credentials should be changed from the factory default. There should be access controls in place to ensure that only appropriate users can view, download, and share secure documents. Employees should monitor their printers for security updates as frequently as they monitor for computer updates.
On the IT management side, printers should be isolated on a local network and should be set up to not allow out-of-network connections. Your IT team should disable any networking protocols that employees don’t need for their work and should ensure that all printers are covered within your network security protocols, including for managing open ports. Investing in both office and home printers that are from the same brand is more efficient for managing all print services, including security measures.
HP Wolf Security was developed with users in mind. It offers innovative solutions that secure networked printers from both malevolent attacks and ignorant user error. HP Sure Start includes self-healing measures that are embedded into the firmware, checking operating code in real-time and restarting with a safe “golden copy” of a printer’s operating code if there has been a breach. HP Connection Inspector automatically triggers a self-healing reboot if a suspicious user or device requests access to your network. The memory and firmware are constantly monitored for risks, and even the printer cartridges are tamper-proof. HP Security Manager manages all devices in one centralized place, including printers. It’s useful for constantly assessing and monitoring all your office devices together, in order to identify any suspicious activity and trigger a self-healing reboot.
In the main office, even something as simple as an employee forgetting a sensitive document in the paper tray could cause a breach, and HP Secure Print prepares for that as well. It holds documents in an encrypted queue on a desktop or in the Cloud until the authorized user verifies their identity and authenticates their request directly on the printer. Jobs that don’t get printed are automatically deleted after a short period of time.
At ABM Federal, we have a long and proven track record of providing federal government with secure, innovative product and service solutions—particularly around Managed Print Services. We understand the unique guidelines and restrictions that federal agencies must operate under for procuring, purchasing, and maintaining their office devices, and we offer “Best In Class” (BIC) contract vehicles that manage the heavy lifting around compliance and budgeting requirements. We are proud to partner with HP to educate customers on the leading technology and services available today, featuring the industry’s best hardware-enforced security. Contact us to learn more about properly protecting your office.
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ABM Federal, an HP Platinum Partner, provides HP Security Solutions to government agencies. With over 40 years of experience, an excellent past performance record, and Best In Class (BIC) contracts, ABM Federal offers a variety of innovative products and services to simplify and enhance your federal office IT.
Contact us at (800) 522-9226 to learn more.
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