Secure Your Multifunction Devices: Keep The Classified In And Corruption Out

In 2011, Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Pictures were forced to temporarily shut down the multi-million dollar production of “The Avengers.” Why? Because the script was stolen and parts of it needed to be rewritten to preserve the story line’s confidentiality until the film’s release.

In 2012 and with one week remaining before the opening ceremony of the London Olympics, questions over the provision of security guards for the Games were popping up around Britain.

Three weeks before Christmas, 2013, The major hack of discount retailer Target that stole credit and debit card data from 40 million accounts was still reverberating several days later.

Security issues are everywhere, but in the case of this blog post, we ask the following question: How was a script stolen from such a prominent and professional pair of media producers?

Because printer security wasn’t taken seriously.

Don’t Dismiss Printer Security

Many people dismiss printer/copier safety because laptops, PCs and servers tend to dominate the security scene. But printer security is just as important, especially since the security of laptops, PCs and servers has advanced significantly in recent years.

You should think of your network printers like servers. They have powerful processors that run embedded Web servers (EWSs) and store information. This information is often confidential content such as personal documents and health records… or perhaps a multi million dollar movie screenplay.

Desktop printers, network printers and advanced multifunction devices (MFDs) are all vulnerable to security threats on many levels. This includes external output violations, internal data breaches and the hijacking of data sent through internet connections.

To take managed print security seriously, here’s what you have to keep in mind:

OUTPUT SECURITY

Just one important document left in the tray by an employee and made accessible to the public is not a risk you want your company to take. Some work space multifunction device manufacturers offer secure print or confidential print features. These allow employees to hold printer jobs in memory until they physically walk up to the machine and enter a PIN code to initiate the printing.

Some even have options to store print: storing soft copies of certain documents, such as frequently printed forms and letterheads, in the printer’s memory. This allows employees to send several jobs at once and initiate them to print collectively with their PIN code.

To prevent unauthorized persons from retrieving documents reprinted after a paper jam, turn off the jam recovery feature if your vendor offers it.

INTERNAL SECURITY

Many network printers and MFDs have a great deal of storage space — often a gigabyte of internal memory or more. High-end devices in particular can store thousands of documents. This is helpful for companies with a large number of frequently printed documents, but it also poses great risk if the correct security measures aren’t taken.

Internal risks include remote code execution, sniffing for passwords and network information, unauthorized capture of information from documents in queue or local memory, malicious code injection, hijacking of a user’s session and root control of printer services.

Here are the strategies to enhance internal security:

  • Filter and restrict.

Make sure your MFDs have some type of IP filter that allows you to control accessibility to prevent hacking and other network security threats. You also want to restrict all printer, copy, fax and scanning activity to the minimum, practical number of subnets, or groupings of connected devices.

  • Use network communications and tools.

Utilize secure protocols, like Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) and Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTPS), and use strong authentication for remote administration. Also, take advantage of any network printer management tools that your vendor provides.

  • Disable the unnecessary.

Many network printers and MFDs have more vulnerable services running on them than networked PCs. It’s crucial to disable those that you don’t need. Additionally, disable any unused Web connections, such as Ethertalk or Internetwork Packet Exchange/Sequenced Packet Exchange (IPX/SPX), keeps unauthorized hosts from sneaking in through unnecessary openings.

The worst thing you can do is to treat your printers like “dumb” peripherals. The days of the dumb printer are long gone. It’s time to treat your printers like the smart workstations they truly are.

The experts at DocuSense are highly skilled and knowledgeable in developing print management solutions to enhance security and streamline document workflow. To get DocuSure about your document safety, click below.