Are you confident in the security of your printers?

If your printers could talk, imagine the secrets they could share. Even though these devices are the conduit between the digital and physical world, when organisations discuss information security, print security does not always get the attention it needs. Just like laptops, mobiles, servers, etc., printers are IT devices that are integrated into the network and represent a potential target for attack.

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In May, Quocirca - a global market insight and research firm specialising in the convergence of print and digital technologies in the future workplace – published its Global Print Security Landscape 2023, filled with headline grabbing statistics that should act as a clarion call for the business community to focus their attention on the print security status.

The average cost of data loss is around £750k

The report suggests that 61% of organisations questioned by the analyst had experienced data losses, as the result of unsecure printing practices in the past 12 months. This is a startling statistic, made worse by the fact that the average cost of such data losses is estimated to have risen sharply from £632k (~ €736k) to almost three quarters of a million pounds (~ 873.000 Euros). These sums would be hard to swallow for a large enterprise, but for an SMB the effect can be catastrophic.

The challenge with print security and its infrastructure is twofold – protecting the devices and protecting the data and documents that they output.

Print security is not a priority for many

Printers were amongst the first devices to be added to the original fledgling IT networks, and whilst the emergence of the Digital Transformation of the workplace in recent years has seen a huge increase in the number of networked devices, coupled with an increased focus on data protection and privacy (particularly GDPR), for many print security and secure printing solutions have not been a priority.

This may in part be due to the legacy perception of the ‘humble’ printer. These devices have been a stalwart of the office environment for decades. Who remembers green screen desktop PCs and dot matrix printers in the 1990’s? For a long time, it was the device that sat alone in the corner of the room noisily getting the job done (thankfully they are almost silent these days!). Today, printers are often powerful highly connected multi-function printers (MFP’s), capable of scan, print, copy, fax and more. It is for this reason that Konica Minolta names its devices ‘bizhub’, to reflect their importance in the intelligent connected workplace.

Printers can also be hacked

Another respected analyst group, KuppingerCole, reported in 2020 that endpoints connected to the internet were experiencing 1.5 attacks per minute globally. It may have been said many times, but it bears repeating that an organisation’s IT infrastructure is only as strong as its weakest link. This was highlighted way back in 2017 when a hacker by the name of ‘stackoverflowin’ hacked 150,000 printers to highlight vulnerabilities in print security. A reminder came in October last year, when the CyberNews security team were reportedly able to access 27,944 printers around the world and force the hijacked devices to print out a five-step guide on how to secure a printer.

It is perhaps unsurprising that just 11% of organisations with between 250 and 499 employees and 27% with 500 to 999 employees responded to Quocirca that they do not have complete confidence in the security of their print infrastructure.

Make print security your priority!

The good news is that print security and secure printing solutions are  top priorities for manufacturers, who are continuously embedding new security features, functionality that helps best practice adherence internally (Konica Minolta secure print includes services such as bizhub SECURE that offers password protection and data encryption on Konica Minolta MFP’s) and protects against external threat vectors such as viruses and malware (Konica Minolta devices can also take advantage of BitDefender’s leading-edge software).

Another innovation in recent years has been the emergence of Cloud Print. These services can enable organisations to simplify their print operations and modernise their print infrastructure, in response to changing working practices workforce agility whilst at the same time improving data protection and document security thanks to functionalities such as Follow-me-Print/Secure Print.

Print and printers continue to be powerful workplace enablers, but like any other aspect of the office environment, can present a risk if not managed correctly. So, to those who do not have complete confidence in the security of their print infrastructure, ask yourself why this is the case and take action today. And, if you do have confidence, ensure that this trust is not misplaced. A security audit (including a review of security print solutions) is never a bad idea and if you do not have the expertise in house then consider tapping into the specialist knowledge of your supplier, or Managed Print Service provider.

Learn more about how you can increase your print security with Konica Minolta secure print solutions here.
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