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Hackers never rest, and the very devices you assume wouldn’t be vulnerable to hacking can easily turn into vectors for data theft, malware, and security leaks. Even something as seemingly benign as a multifunction printer can pose a serious security risk without the right safeguards in place.

Data breaches regularly cost companies millions of dollars to resolve, and recent figures from IBM put the average total cost at nearly $4 million as of 2020. Now imagine suffering those losses thanks to an outdated or unsecured networked printer. Fortunately, Managed Print Services (MPS) can play a key role in strengthening your organization’s printer security.   

What is Managed Print Services?

When the average layperson hears the term “Managed Print Services,” their minds might turn to document printing and the process behind it. But MPS is quite different. Instead of focusing on the actual task of printing documents, MPS involves outsourcing the management of your document output and the devices that handle this responsibility: the copiers, printers, and other document-handling equipment your organization relies on daily. 

Whether you’re a small business owner or part of a larger organization, managing all the printing devices at your disposal is no easy feat. Even having a dedicated IT team in-house responsible for this task can prove costly and cumbersome, while taking these employees away from other IT-related issues. Managed Print Services relieves your staff of that burden, allowing you to redirect resources and manpower to the areas that matter most to your organization.

Managed Print Services providers do more than just install, maintain, and repair your office equipment. A trusted MPS provider will also evaluate your current printing environment and devise strategies that reduce costs, lessen workloads, improve productivity, and even reduce carbon footprints. Such strategies often involve replacing outdated equipment, right-sizing existing assets, automatically replenishing printer supplies like ink and toner, and providing help desk support.

How Your Printers Put You at Risk

You wouldn’t think that hackers would be able to turn an ordinary printer into a gateway for malware and other malicious attacks, but any networked device that’s connected to the internet is fair game for cybercriminals. In fact, printers are often considered soft targets for cyberattacks for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Most businesses overlook printers as potential weak points in their network security. A recent white paper from Quocirca found that only 27 percent of companies were considered “print security leaders” while 17 percent of companies lagged behind. 
  • Today’s printers are more advanced than ever, making them more vulnerable to sophisticated attacks. Many of these devices feature internal storage and other technology requiring careful attention paid to information security. 
  • Users can access modern printers from multiple points, whether it be through a desktop, mobile device, or the machine’s physical interface, creating more endpoints to safeguard.
  • Businesses often neglect to stay on top of firmware updates, making their printers more vulnerable to cyberattacks.
  • Most printers also lack out-of-the-box protection against cyberattacks, making a freshly installed printer one of the biggest threats to your network until it’s properly configured. 

Printer security threats run the gamut from fake print jobs that can quickly cripple print environments and fraudulent email messages capable of distributing malware to botnets that target and steal information from insecure printers. “Point of entry” exploits allow hackers to infiltrate printers as a gateway to other devices on the network. Hackers can also hold entire print networks hostage with ransomware distributed to each machine. There are even exploits that let hackers capitalize on booming cryptocurrency markets by taking over and infecting printers with crypto mining software.

End users can also put printers at risk without realizing the damage being done. Altering settings to make printing jobs easier can also reduce security and make those devices more vulnerable. If a user resets a printer back to factory settings to resolve an issue, doing so also removes any custom security settings put in place after installation to protect said device. 

Not every printer security risk comes from the cyber realm. For example, documents left unattended in printer trays are easy pickings for anyone in search of confidential data they weren’t meant to see. Data saved on internal hard drives can also be accessed by end-users and used for nefarious purposes.

Like the vast majority of other cybersecurity threats, printer-related exploits aren’t going away anytime soon. As other avenues of attack are hardened against the most common threats, printers and other networked devices are coming under greater pressure from hackers and other malicious users. While the need for increased printer security becomes more evident with each passing year, many companies are only beginning to take immediate action towards securing an overlooked-yet-highly vulnerable part of their networks. Fortunately, 70 percent of companies polled in the Quocirca white paper had taken the first step towards improving their printer security by conducting an assessment of their current print environment.

Why MPS Can Make a Difference

Safeguarding your print environment from cybercriminals is easier said than done but partnering with a trusted Managed Print Services provider makes that effort easier. MPS providers can rely on their vast experience, resources, and skillsets to transform your printers and other office technology devices from potential liabilities to valued assets. This can be done by:

  • Devising an ideal printer strategy that covers every aspect of your print environment while remaining flexible enough to evolve as your business needs change.
  • Promoting physical device security via device placement and access controls, along with smart technologies like smart cards and proximity badges.
  • Staying on top of firmware updates and security patches, as well as rotating outdated equipment out of circulation as needed.
  • Giving IT administrators the tools needed to keep close tabs on end-users along with their print jobs.
  • Creating training programs that teach end-users how to safely use their print devices.

When it comes to securing your print environment, investing in Managed Print Services represents a big step in the right direction. Contact On Demand today to learn more about MPS or inquire about a free assessment of your Houston organization’s print environment.