How Safe is Your Home Printer?
How often do you photocopy or print documents using your printer at work or at home?
While this may seem like a simple, routine process, there may be more to it than what is apparent.
According to recent studies, the likelihood of your confidential data being retained on the hard drives of these print devices is quite real!
Several corporate printing devices deploy the use of internal storage for holding print jobs, as they await to be printed.
Many enterprise printing environments implement secure printing via authenticated release, forcing users to enter a secure release code at the printing station before being able to retrieve printed content.
This security feature does ensure that only authorized users obtain their respective documents, however, it also causes pending print jobs, and possibly private corporate data, to remain vulnerable in the printer memory!
But what about the printing setup you’ve got at home? Does your home printer also present the same data security risk?
People often sell their old printers for a few bucks when they move up the cloud or start using convenient, cost-saving public printing options.
Does this mean that selling your aging printer is essentially equivalent to giving away all your sensitive data that has been printed or copied on this device? Let’s explore this in some more detail!
Securing Your Network
Studies have shown that there does exist a significant printer security risk, because of data exposure through network-connected printing equipment.
These printer security risks are present in environments where the printer is directly connected to the network, regardless of how many devices then connect and print through the printer.
To guarantee complete security for your print environment, the priority in such scenarios should be to secure the wireless network that the printer is linked to!
Practical steps to ensure a secure network include:
- Changing the administrator name and password credentials from the default to customized
- Highly secure access identifications
- Modifying the service set identifier
- Implementing wireless encryption that is compatible with all network connected devices
Following these steps will enable you to complete the first check in securing their print environment, by not allowing unauthorized individuals to connect to their private network!
Securing Access to Printer Management Portal
Most network connected printers provide users with management and control options which they can access via an internet browser, by entering the device’s IP address.
Most management portals allow you to monitor toner/ink levels, start the document scanning process, view the device log for past activity, etc.
You should also encrypt access to the control portal through enabling password-protected authorization.
Securing access to the printer’s management and control provides the second line of defense, denying hackers the ability to alter print controls!
Removing the Printer Hard-Drive
Now that you have protected your network and printer from being accessed by unauthorized individuals, you need to figure out whether your printer is storing digitized versions of your copy and print jobs in its internal storage!
In terms of identifying whether a particular printer has an internal storage drive that archives all jobs, you should begin your investigation by checking the technical specifications of your device, whether it be online or through the provided user manual.
If still unsure, you can take the next step and ask the printer manufacturer directly about possible internally embedded storage devices within your printer.
So, when it comes to selling your old printer, which just happens to contain an internal storage drive, what should you do? In printers where the storage drives are installed as optional parts, they are typically simple to remove!
If you have some level of technical skills, you could also try linking the drive to a computer and format the entire drive, permanently erasing all embedded data! Additionally, you can simply destruct the storage device after removing it from the printer!
In circumstances where the printer’s storage drive is permanently associated with the printer, removing the drive will effectively destroy the printer!
If the manufacturer does not provide software that assists in storage deletion, then the only option may be throwing the printer out.
Now That You Know, What Should You Do?
With the potential of a printer security risk and breaches being quite realistic, what should you do to avoid this situation?
- Enabling automatic security patch downloads when they become available directly from the manufacturer,
- fortifying your network through the latest data encryption standards,
- erasing or even disabling internal memory if possible, and disabling physical access ports,
Hopefully, these are all helpful options to strengthen your printer security. But if you still are unsatisfied, you may want to look into scrapping your home printer setup entirely and consider using a third-party public printing solution.
A public cloud printing solution ideal third-party solution offers you the ability to securely access and print all of your documents, whether it be located on your local device storage, cloud accounts, or emails, via secure cloud technology, and release the print jobs at a nearby, convenient location anywhere, anytime!