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October 14, 2020

How to Keep Your Office Copiers and Printers Secure?

office printer in office corner

Every company understands that security is vital to a healthy future. Without the right security measures in place, a company is risking its data as well as the security of its clients and employees. One of the most overlooked areas for cybersecurity is the copy room. Multifunction printers, copiers, scanners, and even networked desktop printers are a risk to company security. 

Malware, trojans, phishing scams, and ransomware are just a few of the genuine risks companies encounter daily. With the 2020 pandemic looming large, these risks are even greater. Cyber attacks are on the rise, and companies are having to respond in kind. 

Let’s take a look at copier security, printer security, and how to secure your office equipment. We’ll examine some of the safety measures that should be on your company’s to-do list to ensure adequate security. 

Keeping Your Office Copiers & Printers Secure

Keeping your office copiers and printers secure may sound obvious, but it’s astounding how many organizations take this concept for granted. Printer security is often partially deployed, but adequate, even advanced security is often missed, creating opportunities for cybercriminals. 

Physical security is one example of inadequate security. While we are often concerned with internet security, data can be accessed by people who want to help the competition or participate in corporate espionage. 

Data encryption is also often left off the to-do list when it comes to copy machine security risks. End-to-end security is vital to a healthy and safe organization.

And simply monitoring usage is a common point of weakness for security as well as productivity and efficiency. Let’s take these examples and more one at a time.

Upgrade copiers and printers with the latest software

Copiers and printers, particularly multifunction printers, are often being sent software updates. Sometimes they even require hardware updates. 

Many organizations will assume their maintenance plan will ensure they have the latest software updates. Instead of assuming this, remember to actually schedule your printer maintenance for regular intervals. 

Ask your technician or maintenance engineer what updates they’ll be installing. If you want to be extra vigilant, call your supplier or maintenance engineer a month or so after service to ask whether there are any additional updates that are needed, including any patches for the last update. 

Upgrades are not something people think about often, yet they can create gaping holes in company security.

Turn on automatic log-off

Sometimes company’s forget that automatic log-off is an option. Double-check that your copier is set to go to sleep after a few minutes of non-use. While you’re at it, check that all users are automatically logged off. 

Keeping someone logged in for more than a couple of minutes means all of the data and files they can access are at risk. It may feel like a hassle, but logging back in with a quick code or the swipe of a badge takes second compared to the risks not logging off will create. 

As a final note on this topic, turning on automatic log-off doesn’t mean logging people off after 15-minutes. The timeline may work for sending the machine to sleep or power-saver mode to save electricity. However, it only takes a few moments for someone to collect their completed project. Set auto-log off for 2-3 minutes of quiet time to optimize security.

Protect already-printed documents

It happens all the time - you head to the copier to make a few quick copies, and someone else’s printing project is waiting for pick-up. Or, you glance down as you wait for your copies to finish, only to notice someone else’s project in the track or recycle bin. 

If these documents aren’t picked up promptly or aren’t shredded before hitting the bin, they aren’t maintaining company security and can be a liability. Consider making the copy room a badge- or code-only access point to minimize the number of people who have access to the copier, the hard drive through the copier interface, and projects that are sometimes left behind. 

Limited access to how much staff can use the copier will only do so much. Limiting physical access to the actual copier and the supplies help in the copier room can offer an added layer of security more companies should take seriously.

Control user access

This option is mentioned more often than just about any other option, but for good reason. It’s a valuable security tool that is rarely utilized to its full potential. Using the copier is a privilege. Assign access to staff with a usage code. 

Some staff may be limited to black and white copies. Others may get access to color copies. And others may have full access, giving them the ability to access their projects from the hard drive and email their projects to outside vendors. 

In addition, as mentioned above, users may need to have limited access to supplies and the actual copy room. If everyone needs access to the copy room, consider limiting access during after hours, holidays, and weekends. 

You might even add motion sensors to detect off-hours usage. Then ask the security guard who does rounds to include the copy room in his daily walk-throughs. 

Monitor use

Lastly, one of the reasons security measures fail is because the company institutes security measures but doesn’t follow-through to evaluate effectiveness through monitoring. Once a system is put in place, remember to evaluate its effectiveness. 

Who is the process benefiting? Are there holes in the system that need to be monitored further, patched, or re-evaluated? Are security measures negatively affecting productivity or efficiency? If so, how can they be improved? 

The feedback loop is an essential piece to any project, and security is no different. Remember to monitor and evaluate at regular intervals to ensure the best possible safety measures are in place for your company and the solutions that are needed most.

Final Thoughts: Keep Your Office Copiers and Printers Secure 

There’s so much that can be done to keep your organization secure. And, in many cases, there is so much that companies know they need to implement and just aren’t following through. Don’t let poor time management or a lack of security priorities keep you from successfully managing the best possible security measures for your company. 

Keep your office equipment secure by ensuring limited access, turning on automatic log-off, and upgrading your copier to the latest software. Protect already printed documents. Control user access. And above all, monitor the processes that you put into place to ensure their effectiveness and fit for your company. 

Printer security is of the utmost importance, not only for your company but for your staff, customer, clients, and even vendors. Implement solutions that make sense, initially. Then layer additional security measures over time.

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