5 top tips to keep your multifunction printer cyber secure


standing multifunction printer cyber safe

With recent changes in legislation, we thought it would be a great time to think about the printers and multifunction units our clients use on a day to day basis and think about how secure these devices are.

So, is your office photocopier secure? Is it compliant with the latest legislation and as secure as it could be? 

It’s common knowledge and everyone knows that keeping our PC’s as up to date as possible is critical to keeping us safe. Your anti-virus need to be set-up correctly and kept as up to date as physically possible.

Logging in every time someone wants to print, or scan is not a great solution

Nobody likes having to enter a password or login each time they want to print or scan from the photocopier, so below is our quick guide on making your copier more secure without having to jump through hoops whenever a member of staff wants to print or scan.

In this short guide we’re hoping to dispel many of the rumours and hearsay around printer security and compliance, giving guidance on how to tighten up your security and become less vulnerable.

Why is your multi-function printer a possible weakness?

The multi-function printer which sits on your network has features such as scan to folder (smb), scan to email and also to a web server. You can print and store documents to it over the internal office network.

in order to allow all these different processes to efficiently happen the ports on the MFP are often left open.

An MFP device will often run an operating system such as LINUX and have an open architecture (opensource software or free software) to allow other software applications to run a “front end client“ (user interface) on the device to help you use its functions efficiently.

Possible weak areas of your photocopier

Depending on who the machine is managed by, they are often not updated to the latest firmware version which can include security patches along with updated software applications.

From our experience there can be as many as 15 firmware updates over the useful life of a multifunction printer. That’s a lot of potential security risks which your unit is not protected against.

Another commonly overlooked weakness is the default password on a machine. Each equipment manufacturer will usually have a default administrator password for an entire range of equipment.

This enables the administrator to alter all manner of network settings. These are often left as the default password, which can then leave it open to a possible breach.

5 Easy Steps to securing your MFP

  • Change the machines default password, this has to be the easiest and the first thing to do. Most machines will have an administrator section that is entered by inputting the password. Ask your service provider to change this from the default to something that is unique. (remember to keep a copy of the password for future use)
  • Make sure your device is running the latest version of its firmware. This update will contain all the latest security patches. Another benefit is that the patches will also fix other problems/bugs that may be present in the existing firmware.
  • Close ports and protocols not being used. This can get a little bit technical, but then again everything to do with IT security is these days. So, speak to your IT support or multifunction printer maintenance company and see what ports can be closed on your machine. 
  • Make sure the hard disk is encrypted/set to overwrite. This adds a level of protection to the data you have stored on the machine. If you think about the amount of information you might scan into your photocopier even on a weekly basis it becomes pretty clear about why encrypting this is a good idea. A lot has been made of the recent GDPR updates, your printer is also an area that can trip you up when it comes to complying with GDPR.
  •  Turn off WIFI or Bluetooth. Many multifunction printers now have wireless connections. These can be accessed by anyone with a phone or tablet. Even with encryption it should be fairly easy for someone with a bit of technical know-how to access the machine using Bluetooth or WIFI. Make sure again that you speak to your IT support or multifunction printer maintenance company

If you want any further help with the issues raised in this small guide please get in touch.

About the author 

John Hynes

Working in the printing industry for 35 years (office equipment servicing and maintenance), John - Managing Director of Copy Print Services - started as a hands-on technician repairing all kinds of equipment.

He always kept up to date with the “evolution” of the machinery and worked on the latest equipment that would give the customers the most efficient way of producing a document.

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