An elephant never forgets and nor does your printer

August 19, 2021

Freedom day has come and gone. Masks have largely become optional attire, except for a few distinct situations and despite the acceptance of a more flexible approach to work, the return to the office is expected to pick up pace during July and August.

Much has been made of the security risks of phishing attacks, zero-day vulnerabilities and the ransomware attacks impacting businesses of all sizes and across all sectors, from healthcare and education to legal and manufacturing.

However, until recently less attention was paid to the risk posed by your humble office printers, but the spotlight hit this often forgotten corner of the cyber security environment with news of Microsoft’s problems with the Windows print spooler.

Microsoft warned customers to disable the service in an attempt to contain a new vulnerability that could help attackers execute malicious code, even on fully patched machines. This Windows vulnerability is the third printer-related flaw to come to light in recent weeks.

Your printers are a target

Printers are typically one of the most used devices on a shared network, which is convenient, but with so many people having access, also a risk. Working from home also ensured there was even less control than normal over what printer was used and by whom, to say nothing of who was there when the hard copies popped out.

Printers on your corporate network can be targeted as a weak spot, often because ignored printers are not patched or are not running the latest firmware, which can leave them vulnerable. And once they have been compromised, they can be used as the springboard to reach other network devices.

Most printers will receive sensitive data at some point, whether it’s legal documents or financial data, which puts the printers on the hit list for hackers, which could make a lot of money out of stolen data. The documents sent to print, could be copied or re-routed, and even printed elsewhere.

It is also worth considering the risk of unauthorised individuals having access to printed copies of data, left unattended at a multi-function printer, shared by different teams or different businesses.

And remember, printers and copiers typically have hard drives capable of retaining all manner of sensitive information, print jobs, scans, company and user information. To be on the safe side, get into the habit of clearing the device’s cache memory regularly.

Considering the elephant never forgets analogy, it makes sense to encrypt data while it’s at rest as well as during transmission, so encrypting the device’s hard drive provides a further layer of security. When we supply you a new device, we can help decommission old ones safely, for added peace of mind.

Show some love and stay safe

Ensuring your printers are secure should be top of the list of jobs when you return to the office this month. But your printers, some of which may have gone unused for months, will need a little love if they are to perform at their best for you.

Switching everything back on and expecting things to work as they should after such a long time away is optimistic. You are likely to encounter a number of errors, some of which you can resolve yourself and some that will only be resolved with the experienced support we offer, as Managed Print specialists.

Simple errors will typically include, issues with print drivers, perhaps needing to be updated since the last time the printers were used. If they have not been run for a while, you may see messages about parts needing to be replaced, particularly toner cartridges, despite them being almost unused.

Then there will be print quality issues, related to the toner potentially absorbing moisture and clumping, which can be easily resolved by removing the cartridges and giving them a gentle shake. Run a cleaning cycle if you have one and print test pages before printing important documents.

If you still don’t think your printers are up to the job, or you have decided now is the time for a new managed print solution, please get in touch and we will talk you through your options, from service and maintenance to a complete pay-as-you-go solution. Please call on +44 (0)20 7392 8886 or email [email protected]

But remember, there is currently a world shortage of printers, spares, consumables and the technicians need to install and service them, so don’t leave it too long, or you might be at the back of a very long print queue.