At least 3 Things You Didn’t Know About Managed Print Services

Posted by Jonathan Pavoni on Jul 20, 2016, 11:00:00 AM

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  • Did you know you can eliminate 95% of all documents being left on a printer or copier? How? Simply, it’s the same technology that eliminates 95% of people from forgetting to take their keys out of the ignition once parked or the reminder from your microwave that your coffee cup is still inside. If only Credit Suisse has known about this simple fix before they were sued for $10 million after an employee stole confidential documents left laying on a printer. 

  • Did you know a printer has the same capacity and ability as a computer? How often do you update your printer software? How often does your virus software scan your printer? Did you know an 18-year old kid with a mobile phone hacked a company via a cheap wireless printer innocently brought into the company by a broker?
  • Did you know that the Federal Trade Commission created awebsite to address the risk of printer/copier hard drives that can be popped off in seconds with a screwdriver and all the data transmitted from the machine over the years walks out the door?

Managed print services are no longer a luxury; they are a necessity. Over and above the cost savings and increased productivity, managed print services protect your business from privacy law violation fines and other security risks.

According to Infortrends, there are almost 30 million printers and multifunction devices in offices and homes throughout the U.S. and Western Europe, and most are connected to a network. This means they are just as susceptible to malware and hacker attacks as PCs -but for a variety of reasons they are often overlooked by IT professionals and used without proper safeguards by employees.

 

To further this point, consider these telling findings. A recent Xerox-McAfee study revealed that more than half (54 percent) of employees say they don’t always follow their company’s IT security policies. Also, half (51 percent) of those employees whose workplace has a printer, copier or MFP say they’ve copied, scanned or printed confidential information at work.

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Sound familiar?

The study goes on to say that more than half (54 percent) think computers pose the biggest security threat to their company’s network compared to other IT devices, while only 6 percent say it is MFPs. This small percentage is proof that employees simply do not realize their office MFPs really are true networked devices that behave the same way their PCs do – and have similar vulnerabilities. Pair these stats with the fact that the average organizational cost of a data breach is $5.5 Million and you have a pretty strong argument for taking this warning seriously.

But I know what you’re thinking: none of those massive breaches are possible through an MFP, right?

Wrong.

Just about anyone can launch full-scale attacks against a network and a company’s information assets through an MFP if its physical and electronic access points aren’t securely controlled and protected. Those attacks can be as simple as someone picking up documents left in the MFP’s output tray, to malicious worms pulling sensitive documents off the network.

Consider this example of hacking the network through an MFP: Today’s combination of mobile workers, cloud printing and the continuing penetration of Android-based personal devices make it possible for an attacker to create a malware app that infects the mobile device, opportunistically attaches itself to a cloud print job, gets downloaded to a networked MFP, and from there infects the entire enterprise network, completely bypassing firewall and intrusion detection controls. In this case, it’s complexity that creates the vulnerability.

There is also the issue of something called device decommissioning. Enterprise MFPs handle large volumes of data and have integrated disk drives. Unauthorized access to this stored data by both people and processes running within the MFP’s operating system could reveal sensitive or confidential material – think along the lines of private documents you’ve scanned and sent to HR. One example of this information falling into the wrong hands was when the Buffalo, N.Y. police department sold off some older MFPs that had reached the end of their useful life. As part of an exposé in 2010 by CBS News, identifying information related to ongoing police investigations was easily discovered on the hard drives of these decommissioned machines. And this is not uncommon.

Companies need to properly lock down their MFPs, but traditionally there has been a limited availability of printer security solutions to keep them Fort Knox safe. At minimum, here is what IT administrators need to do to protect the network:

  • Control access to the MFP and its functions at the group, individual, and activity level.
  • Ensure data is secure at every stage of the workflow – from the data path along the network to the device itself.
  • Use all available tools to protect sensitive documents from loss or theft.
  • Always include MFPs in standard network security measures and policies.

To accomplish all of this in the simplest way possible, companies should consider choosing an MFP with security software integrated directly into the device that operates with a “whitelisting” method. Whitelisting allows only approved files to run, offering significantly more protection for embedded systems than traditional black listing tactics, which depend on continuous updates of signature files in order to remain current.  Certain embedded security software also provides an immediate alert and audit trail to track and investigate the time and origin of security threats – and spurs appropriate action.

Moving forward we will see a push to where users are no longer scared of the “multi” in multifunction printers enabling them to do more with the devices – like network scanning. We’re finally approaching a time where the MFP is considered a “true citizen” on the network rather than a rogue device or an outlier – and taking the time to protect it is an integral part of today’s security imperatives.

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To read more about printer security visit our website or contact Chris Gallagher at Green Office Partner a Xerox and HP Channel Partner. 312-399-5299 or cgllagher@greenofficepartner.com

Topics: Insider, going green, managed print services, print management, printer security