In February 2017, a hacker going by the name “stackoverflowin” accessed over 150,000 internet-connected printers and printed messages stating, “Your printer has been pwnd’d!” — hacker-speak for gaining access to and claiming ownership of a system.
When an organization’s network is breached, it is a serious threat to information security. In this situation, however, the hacker claims that he or she was merely calling attention to how woefully inadequate printer security is in many organizations. To some, the hack might have been considered a helpful joke, albeit one with a serious message. But to IT professionals who are serious about security, this breach raised many concerns.
This was not the first warning of its kind, and yet many IT organizations still do not realize that their printing environment can be the weak link in their security plans. Hackers printing something on your devices from a remote location may not sound like much at first, but what happens when an outsider can access the document content that a printer has processed?
Then it becomes a serious risk, especially for healthcare organizations that must protect documents that contain confidential patient information.
Secure printing protects health information
According to International Data Corporation, cybersecurity has been a growing part of healthcare IT budgets in recent years. Despite the heightened focus on health data security, printer security is still too often excluded from these investments. You might think this is a logical result of people printing less in our increasingly digital world, but in fact, the opposite is true.
Millennials have become the largest living generation, outnumbering Baby Boomers, and while they may seem to live online more than in the real world, they actually print more hard copies than preceding generations, according to IDC research. The point is, printing isn’t going away anytime soon, and printers are every bit as important to an organization’s overall security strategy as any other device connected to the network.
Be sure that your print infrastructure is an essential part of your organization’s security strategy, and roll out appropriate policies and procedures across your enterprise. An effective print strategy should include these steps…