Can Your Printer Be Hacked?

Did you know that printers can be a vulnerability to your network? That's right! Printers are built just like computers. They communicate on the internet and have a web page on them.
  • West Michigan
    IT Professionals

Can Your Printer Be Hacked?

Key Points:

  • A vulnerability is a weakness or flaw in your network that can result in a security breach when compromised.
  • Like many other devices, your printer is connected to the internet, creating a point of entry for bad actors trying to access your network.
  • Printer manufacturers typically fix known vulnerabilities in their device’s firmware, so installing these regular updates is vital to your network security.

Did you know that printers can be a vulnerability to your network? That’s right! Printers are built just like computers. They communicate on the internet and have a web page on them. This means they also have a web server on them, with a code running in the background. As a result, your printer can be utilized to access other devices on your network, including PCs, servers, personal information, and file storage.

While security awareness among organizations of all sizes is gaining ground, printer security is often neglected or overlooked. Your printer can be a jump-off point for those bad actors trying to gain access to your network. As a result, they’re a common access point that hackers use to break into your home or company network. When discussing securing your printer, we are talking about patching vulnerabilities.

What Is a Vulnerability?

A vulnerability can be anything on your firewall, servers, PC, and IoT devices. Potential vulnerabilities include printers, Nest thermostat controllers, and anything with a web page you can access using a web console. These vulnerabilities represent a weakness or flaw in your network that can result in a security breach when compromised.

Why Do You Need to Patch These Vulnerabilities?

Every day bad actors are searching for new ways to access networks. Network vulnerabilities presented by different devices and software used in your system are often an easy way for cybercriminals to gain access.

So you have to continually update your firmware and patch your software to stop the bad actors from utilizing these vulnerabilities in those devices. There are built-in tools that help you ensure your devices are patched and updated.

Printer manufacturers fix known vulnerabilities in their devices’ firmware with regular updates. These updates include vulnerability patching, which adds a piece of code to existing software to improve functionality and remove vulnerabilities that have been flagged.

For example, those pesky updates you get from Microsoft all the time that require you to do a restart on your computer. That’s precisely what it is doing. It’s patching those vulnerabilities on your computer to ensure that the bad actors cannot utilize them and use them as a jump-off point to access other items on your network.

Outdated or unpatched software exposes the systems running the application and potentially your entire network. So as a security best practice, you must ensure this patching is happening on computers and other network devices.

Another example of patch management is SD-WAN. That’s software-defined WAN, or in simple terms. It means that a controller manages your network’s equipment in the cloud. And this central controller is automatically pushing down and installing security updates to those networking devices to ensure your network is as secure as possible.

Fortunately, the good old days of having to do firmware updates on your network to ensure you are getting the best security are gone. Today these updates can be done automatically using your cloud controllers, simplifying the entire process. So make sure your printer always stays up-to-date security-wise. Closing any known security holes with the latest firmware version will help you avoid most basic network printer issues.

Keeping your firmware up to date is even more critical if you use a printer at home, as most business-class printing machines have additional security features that home printers lack. One easy way to remember to check for updates is to set up a recurring reminder to check for updates on your calendar app once every couple of months.

Steps You Can Take To Secure Your Printer

Printers are still a common gateway cybercriminals use to break into your home or company network. In addition to ensuring that your system and printer have the latest updates installed, you can take a few other steps to ensure your printer is secure.

Use a Firewall

While it should go without saying, using a secure and reliable firewall is a must. If you’re using Windows, your operating system comes with a pre-installed firewall; all you need to do is make sure it’s enabled at all times. Your firewall will protect unused protocols allowing hackers to access your printer from outside the network remotely.

Limit or Disable Network Printing

Leaving an unprotected printer connected to your home or organization network is like leaving the door to your room, office, or home unlocked. So, reviewing and disabling anything involving internet printing is vital. In addition, you should configure your network settings so that your printer only responds to commands from your network router.

Secure Your Printing Ports

Unsecured ports are one of the easiest ways for hackers to access your printer. For this reason, you should only enable the printing protocols you will use.

Change the Default Password to a Strong Passphrase

Most printers tend to be connected to the internet, meaning they can be accessed remotely with the correct password. Unfortunately, most printers also have default administrator usernames and passwords. These usernames and passwords can be easily looked up by cybercriminals and used to gain access to your network. So if you still need to change your printer’s default password, you should do so immediately.

Keep Your Network Secure With Envizion IT

Keeping your network safe and secure is challenging and requires constant vigilance. With the threat of experiencing a cyber attack increasing, It’s more important than ever to ensure that every device, including your printer, is protected.

At Envizion IT, we aim to work with your organization to ensure your system is secure in the most cost-effective manner possible. We are experts in cybersecurity and offer clients PC management software to do the patch management for you to ensure they are completed as needed. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help keep your network secure.