Printer Security is Not Worth Worrying About – Right?

When dealing with enterprise security, we commonly refer to and consider firewalls, Intrusion Prevention Devices (IPS), Virtual Private Sites (VPN), encryption and authentication. Once we think of protecting our data, we think of securing critical machines and databases. Rarely do we think of machines. Billions of dollars are spent worldwide on security each year, but how much did your business spend on securing their printers this last doze months? If you responded zero, you would be in the vast the greater part. aluguel de impressoras Sorocaba

Printers have come a long way since their widespread adoption in the late 1970’s and early on 1980’s. In older days and nights, each printer was linked to an individual system and may only process a single print job at a time. Today, ink jet printers have matured into multi functional devices that bare little resemblance to their faraway origins. Printers in the 21st century perform a large number of tasks including, but not restricted to, printing, scanning service, photocopying, faxing and even emailing documents. What most users, and even system, network and security managers do not realize is actually really goes on inside a printer and what functionality they truly have. Most users still think of the printers of 30 years ago; unintelligent devices that only own the ability to printing documents. This view is far taken off the real truth. 

When discussing printers in this article, we are not only talking about the behemoths you observe in most large enterprises, but also your low-end multipurpose printers you now find common in regular homeowners. Rare is it to find a printer, no matter how small, and that only performs the single task of printing photos. Most, at a very minimum, provide faxing or scanning and with these come increased memory requirements. Scanning a full doc in preparation to print out, scanning a document to be saved as a PDF or similar record, or scanning a file to allow faxing all require the ability to buffer the data within the device. A barrier is simply a region of memory that permits the holding of non permanent data. Machines use this buffer to store a digital version of the document you are printing, scanning or faxing. Depending on the device, this buffer can range from a tiny bit of Random Access Memory (RAM) to a Hard Drive Drive like the type found in your computer system or laptop computer. In larger enterprise printers, this buffer is not the sole memory store found within the printer. A larger, non-volatile memory area is provided to maintain semi-permanent or everlasting information. For example, some computer printers allow scanning of a document and saving it within the printer as a PDF. The end user may then hook up to the printer as if it were a network drive, or via a web page, and down load their document.

So how are we going with all of this? The leakage or theft of sensitive and confidential corporate information. Huge enterprises may have developed and implemented data preservation and destruction policies but rarely do these include, or even mention, computer printers. Companies look at hardcopies of documents, CD’s, Digital video disks and workstation, laptop and server hard drives when developing their data damage policies. While it is clear they identify hard drives as a way to obtain hypersensitive information, rarely do they consider the hard runs contained within their machines, if they even know of their existence. Machines are also commonly avoided when security policies, methods and guidelines are developed and implemented. Little time, if any, is put in looking at printer security or the implications of not securing the business printers. Much more disturbing this becomes when you think about the common types of documents that go through ink jet printers in a corporate environment. Depending on the industry or the department within the organization, documents may differ from sensitive financial documents, personal customer data or detailed network diagrams, state just a few.