21 Mar 2018
Speak to anyone in IT and the discussion will inevitably turn to security and the various different tactics to keep data safe or prevent against hackers.
Firewalls, virus checkers, anti-phishing measures and even caution over plug-in devices are the key trends but one thing often over-looked by companies on a daily basis is the vulnerability of printers and photocopiers.
Anything connected to the IT network can be a target and given the volumes of sensitive documentation which can travel through a photocopier or scanner each day– they are definitely on the radars of cyber criminals.
Attacks can vary in size from an unknown element managing to view documents left in the output tray to embedding malicious software to continually extract sensitive material which may be travelling across the businesses’ network. There are even cases of skilled operators managing to turn office devices into listening bugs.
More worryingly its obvious most companies don’t have a strategy to prevent such potentially damaging data breaches.
Printers are particularly susceptible and can act as an easy entry point for anyone looking for an unguarded door. Once access is achieved, they can be used as launch pads for further hacking assaults.
Luckily there is a simple check-list which employees of any IT proficiency can work through to strengthen their defences.
Make sure you reset all passwords, many of which could still be set on default combinations or have been lingering for years. Infiltrators will always try predictable default passwords on their first attempts and you’d be surprised how often these are not changed.
Meanwhile, a firewall is a line of defence to keep hackers out of a network and ensuring one is active and up-to-date can be crucial to winning the battle.
Many devices will also come with software updates which will send regular notifications whenever they are due. Make sure to keep these up-to-date as a savvy hacker can exploit older versions and gain network access.
Ensure printers, photocopiers and scanners are not visible on the public network and check with IT managers to ensure they are on the ‘private subnet’.
Finally, for added peace of mind - cutting-edge software can offer robust protection by automatically changing default passwords, overwriting temporary data stored on the device and encrypting files to prevent them being read even if the hard-drive is removed.
All these measures can help to ensure businesses remains safe from the harmful impact of hackers, staying one step ahead of the game to shut off entry points before they can be exploited.
Michael Field is founder and director of Workflo Solutions, the leading supplier of network photocopy, print and scan technology in Scotland.