The humble printer of yore has died. These old office workhorses used to sit quietly in the corner of the office waiting for someone, anyone, to activate it. After performing its simple function, it was left to its own devices with no network connection and no one accessing it from the privacy of their desk. Big and strong, these old printers weren’t great communicators. Times have changed.

The now not-so-humble multi-functional printer has joined the digital revolution along with the rest of your office computers, allowing pretty much everyone to print directly from their desktop. Printers have gone from Neanderthal grunters to smart and modern, expert communicators, that can talk to any computer on the same network. The problem is the more we digitalise our office equipment – and who wouldn’t when you can make your company so much more productive and efficient – the more we open our businesses to cyber-attacks.

Multi-function printers are connected to a network, and feature their own processors, hard drives, and plenty of digital storage space. This means these printers are now susceptible to a number of security risks, which means businesses need to pay more attention to network security, especially if they are dealing with sensitive information and confidential documents.

What are these risks?

1. Catching a nasty disease
Your multi-function printer, like any other computer on the network, is vulnerable to viruses or dangerous malware. Viruses can infect your files and corrupt your software.

2. Cyber theft

Because your printer has a digital storage device, they may hold private or sensitive documents that you do not want to enter the public domain. These can be ‘secured’ on the printer’s hard drive, but anyone who hacks your network can potentially gain access.

3. User security

While you may trust everyone in your office, there might still be documents sitting on your printer that you do not want employees to see. If staff members are on the network, without any access controls, they could access, alter or delete these documents.

4. Multiple printers
If you have more than one printer – and some companies have many – you need to manage them equally and efficiently, making sure they are all on the same security system and are linked and secure using the necessary updates and software fixes.

5. Legal requirements

Multi-functional printers use large amounts of storage capacity and often contain data that is subject to legal and regulatory compliance.

How to ensure your multifunction printer is secure?
1. Install controls and document-rights policies to ensure only certain personnel can access sensitive documents.
2. Call in the security specialists who will analyse your system and suggest necessary security implementations.
3. Make sure your network is secured by a firewall, anti-virus and malware software.
4. Do regular security reviews and audits to ensure your system is secure.
5. Put one person in charge of your printers’ security. Make it their responsibility to do ongoing maintenance and security checks.
6. Password-protect your printers by ensuring individuals have their own passwords. This allows you to control access and prevent digital trespassing.
7. Upgrading your printers whenever necessary will ensure they are compatible with the latest security software. This includes keeping your printer’s firmware and drivers up-to-date, and ensuring they always have the latest patches and security features.
8. Dispose of your old printers, properly. If you’re selling an old printer or disposing of it, make sure the hard drive and any storage space is cleared of any documents.

Ensure your multifunction printers are as secure as they can be by calling in your office automation and printer specialists.