Printers, The Forgotten Security Link

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As companies and individuals focus on data security on computers, smartphones and mobile devices, they may forget to secure their printer. Too often, printer security is little more than making sure anything with sensitive data isn't left to sit unattended, especially if it is a communal printer in a central part of the office.

But as Patrick Marshall wrote at Government Computer News:

When the printer is networked, risks grow considerably. For example, many organizations require user authentication at a printer before a job will print to ensure that the appropriate person is there when the document is printed.

However, many organizations overlook the fact that networked printers and multifunctional devices have evolved into full-fledged computing devices that contain hard drives that can store sensitive data. In addition, unguarded ports on printers and multifunctional printers can serve as vulnerable access points to other network resources.

DocuCrunch listed five mistakes that can compromise printer security:

  • Printing off an unsecured disk.
  • Not requiring authentication where it's needed.
  • Keeping the reprint option.
  • Ignoring virus protection.
  • Failing to train users on security risks.


In human terms, the simplest security is probably the most obvious: Don't let documents sit unattended at the printer. But even before hitting send, consider whether the document needs to be printed. Many of us do so out of habit or because we like to have a paper backup, but once the paper is printed out, we stuff it in a file drawer and rarely, if ever, look at it again. Why take the security risk?

Physical security measures often can be found through the printer manufacturer. For example, Ricoh recently unveiled new document security.