11 Ways Poor Print Security Can Expose Your Network


There are more nuances to network architectures for security professionals to worry about than ever before. And if you’re thinking about the areas that require the most attention, printing solutions may not be very high on your list.

However, network-connected printers introduce more security gaps than you might expect.

Make sure you have a printing and imaging security strategy in place that addresses all 11 of these vulnerability points.

  1. Cloud-Based Access to Printing: Your remote workers will thank you, but security is a concern any time company data is sent to the cloud. Unsecure data in the cloud could result in unauthorized user access.
  1. Exposed Control Panel: Network connectivity means printing and imaging devices can be configured via a control panel. If someone gains access to an unsecured control panel, they could manipulate settings, functions, and even disable devices altogether.
  1. Ports and Protocols: Attackers can use physical ports on devices or unsecure protocols like FTP or Telnet to compromise a printing or imaging endpoint on your network.
  1. Special Input Trays: Relying on printers for writing checks, prescriptions, and other sensitive documents can be dangerous. Input trays with these special papers can be tampered with or stolen.
  1. Networking Holes: As employees send printing and imaging jobs over your network, hackers can carry out man-in-the-middle attacks to intercept potentially sensitive company data.
  1. Management Blind Spots: Part of a solid print security strategy is continuous monitoring. If monitoring isn’t up to par, security gaps could remain vulnerable for long periods of time and give attackers an easy entry point to the network.
  1. Mobile Printing: Mobile security was a concern when smartphones started flooding the workplace. Printers aren’t immune to these mobile concerns as data could accidentally be exposed.
  1. Neglected Output Trays: When the printer isn’t sitting on an employee’s desk, it’s easy to forget printed documents in the output tray. This makes it easy for sensitive material to end up in the wrong hands.
  1. BIOS and Firmware: There’s a reason why you want printing and imaging devices that validate BIOS and firmware during startup and operation. Compromised firmware gives attackers an easy opportunity to get into your network.
  1. Storage Media: You print all kinds of sensitive material on a daily basis. If these print jobs are stored improperly on internal drives or hard disks, attackers could exfiltrate them and harm your company.
  1. Capturing Data in Transit: It’s an MFP’s job to capture and route print jobs all across your network. The more data you send in transit, the more vulnerable you are to attack—if the data isn’t secured.

There’s no singular answer to all of these vulnerability points. But once you realize how important print security is, you can start developing a comprehensive strategy that addresses all security gaps.

For close to 20 years, PKA Technologies has supplied IT solutions to state and local governments and K-12 and higher educational institutions. If you need help assembling the right stack of printing and imaging services and solutions that will keep your data, documents, and devices secure, contact us today for more information on how HP Print Security solutions can address your specific needs.