Your Weekly Tech Tidbit – Are your printers secure?

April 5th, 2018
Your Weekly Tech Tidbit – Are your printers secure?

We spend huge amounts of time thinking about server and workstation patches, firewall and switch patches and software patches, but when was the last time you thought about the security of your printers?

More and more schools are moving away from small classroom printers and towards more sophisticated, multi-function, copier, scanner, printers.

Printers are network devices.  Many printers are computers that print with hard drives and web access.

Yesterday I was reading an article reminding us that "printers are often the forgotten step-children of IT."  We spend all this time securing the rest of the network, but this box in the corner "just prints".  As long as paper comes out and people don't complain, we move on to more pressing matters.

When setting up printers we have so many people who are going to complain if the printers are off-line, we just "make it print" and move on.   However, I know for many of you your main MFA printer vendor forced you to "dumb down" the network security by using an insecure SMB protocol in order to scan to a user's share folder.   If someone like me got upset and forced the issue, that forced you to implement FTP scanning to maintain the security of the network which is a pain to maintain.  Furthermore, I know of a more than a few recent major virus outbreaks which used the insecure SMB protocol forced upon you by your printer vendor to more easily circumvent your defenses and spread viruses across your network.

In an extreme example, I just read of a customer who had their check-writing printers hacked.  The cybercriminals intercepted the checks being written in the printer's cache memory.  They literally changed the payee names and addresses on the checks on the fly and had the company printing real checks directly to the bad guys.  No one checked the checks that came out of the printers, so they were dutifully mailed out to the bad guys!

Have you ever re-visited your printer configurations with your vendor?  Do you routinely apply firmware updates, etc. to your printers across your district?

If you don't you should.   A printer health check may be worth pursuing.

With Summer coming it is an ideal time to get your printers up to current security standards and eliminate insecure protocols to keep your network safe.

If you need help navigating through this, let us know.