Most people worry about hackers breaking into their computers, but many neglect the possibility that a wireless printer might also be compromised - particularly as most only use it occasionally for printing tax forms and mailing labels, for instance.
Printers can often go unnoticed until you run out of ink and need to print something important. But hackers know all too well about the existence of printers - unsecure printers can provide access to home networks through criminal activity.
Cybernews decided to hack printers deliberately as an illustration. To do this, it successfully hijacked nearly 28,000 unprotected printers worldwide; with an overall success rate of 56% for this hack. Once in, its hackers made printers print an information guide about printer security!
Do you know how vulnerable your network is to printers? Below are some tips for you, designed to secure both devices in the network as well as data throughout your entire organization.
1. Alter the Default Login Credentials
WHEN YOU PURCHASE A PRINTER, it typically comes equipped with default settings. Your printer manufacturer will give instructions on how to connect and configure it; often this involves changing its default login credentials.
Change this information immediately during setup. Hackers possess a list of defaults which they plug into an automated script and continue testing until a match is found. Therefore, it is vital that you change this immediately while also creating a strong, unique password.
2. Keep Printer Firmware Up-to-Date
For optimal printer safety, it is crucial that the firmware be regularly updated. As with software and apps, hardware also requires updates which contain security patches.
Firmware updates don't always appear as prominently as OS updates; OS and software upgrades typically receive notifications with pop-up alerts; however updates to printer drivers and firmware may go undetected.
Here is where you can locate firmware updates:
Applications developed by PC manufacturers on connected devices
Information Panel of Printer
Installing the printer manufacturer's software onto a computer.
3. Deploy a Network Firewall
Firewalls can help monitor traffic by blocking malicious activity and keeping hackers away. Customise the settings for your firewall to monitor incoming and outgoing printer traffic.
4. Install Your Printer on a Guest Network
Most home routers allow for the creation of guest networks, which provide an alternative Wi-Fi network using the same router but more secure from hackers due to its separate subnetwork address. Hackers will have difficulty moving from network to network.
Removing less secure devices from computers and mobile phones will enhance security. Printers connected to other networks allow you to print securely. Just ensure everything is set up correctly before printing from these devices; contact us if any assistance is required.
5. Disable Ports and Services Not Being Utilized
IoT devices such as printers can have multiple ways of connecting. You might not need all the ports and services included with your printer; any that aren't being utilized could pose security risks - hackers could find an entryway into your printer via these ports and services.
Disable any ports or sharing features you do not require to reduce the risk of an intrusion.
6. Unplug It When Not in Use
Home printers tend to be used less often than office ones; some users only need them once or twice each month. Unplug your printer when not in use to save energy costs and preserve its life span.
Unplugging the device is one of the best ways to stop hackers from accessing it. Once powered off, no one will have any way of getting into it again.
7. Share cybersecurity best practices with your family
A printer is just one piece of equipment on your network; many households connect multiple devices via Wi-Fi and will have an average of 22 connected devices in 2022, per U.S. home.
Families must embrace safe cyber habits to safeguard data for all. Doing so will keep identities more secure while also helping avoid costly identity theft or the theft of baby monitors or other items.
Cyber hygiene is a good practice that should be practiced by all.
- Always choose strong passwords (at least 12 characters long, including letters, symbols and numbers) when creating passwords for online accounts.
- Updating software and firmware on your devices is crucial.
- Wherever possible, multi-factor authentication should always be considered when possible.
- Enable firewalls and other protection measures on devices.
- All devices should be fitted with an effective anti-virus solution.
- Do not attempt to log into your account using links sent through text or email messages.
- Learn to recognize phishing attacks and get second opinions before clicking anything that seems fishy.
- At least every other year, have a professional inspect your security measures.
Your family can rely on IT professionals to keep their data safe.
We don't only work with companies - our IT services also assist families to ensure that their devices and data remain protected. Get in touch with us now to schedule a home safety checkup!