One of the better printer security best practices is to physically separate your printer/copier from where customers or passerby’s can access them. This seems like minor issue, but it really is another vector with cyber attacks that can happen.

An overlooked point of security to watch out for is where you place your printer. If a cyber-criminal has physical access to your printers or copy machines, they may also have access to past documents you’ve printed. This includes any sensitive documents you have printed (as well as other customer’s data you may have printed).

Physical Security Considerations Risk Assessment

Have you thought about where you place your printers and copy machines? How much unsupervised time do non-employees have with these machines? Some printers allow for recalled access to old printed documents and a savvy cyber-criminal may be able to access and steal those private documents.

The problem is if you place your printer in a public area where not just employees can get to your printer, but where anyone in public can get to them (like in a public lobby), then you could have an issue, especially if you print sensitive documents for your employee’s eyes only. Flaws in popular printers can let cyber criminals easily steal your private documents.

Here are some other things that can happen if your printer is in a public area:

  • Someone could make unauthorized changes to the printer settings.
    • They could reroute print jobs
    • Someone could reset your printer to factory defaults
    • Open saved copies of documents
  • Someone could simply take a document that was recently printed on the printer and walk out with it.
  • Someone could steal the printer or save all its data to a usb-drive/sd-card, and all its saved documents can be theirs

We recommend placing your printer in an area where a non-employee cannot get to it at all, or cannot get to it very easily without an employee of yours seeing.

Printer Security Best Practices
This is very applicable to large printer and copy machines that are in public areas where the public or a customer can get to.

If your printer allows for “Secure Printing” (which should require a password or PIN to print), consider enabling it. Dependent on the manufacturer, because it’s securely printed, the document is deleted from printer memory and should not be permanently written to the printer’s storage.

If you must have your printer in a public area, at least consider password protecting your printer’s control panel to prevent people from making changes to its settings.

While this is one of those physical printer security best practices, take note about other ways to boost printer security. Some of these other best practices may not apply to every type of printer, but along the lines of your printer being available to the public, you also want to have a strong passphrase for your wireless encryption if you have your printer connect to your wireless network. Setting this up is covered in this section. Also, if there is an option for your printer to be connected/shared over the internet, we don’t recommend doing it; here’s why.

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