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Managed IT Services

Wireless Security: Top Ways to Protect Printers and Copiers

WRITTEN BY
Michelle Lievense

These days, just about anything can be connected to a wireless network. It’s not just mobile devices and computers anymore. Wireless security systems, watches, light bulbs, appliances, doors and elevators, cars and other vehicles, and so much more are connected. 

Connecting printers and copiers was just the next step in making sure offices remain productive and efficient. But at what cost? What does this connectivity take from our office in terms of security, particularly cybersecurity? 

Well, hopefully, the only cost will be added security measures. With the following tips, your office can remain productive and efficient, while also remaining safe from any threats that may be posed from your networked printers and copiers.

Physical Security is Important

Physical security is vital and can take several additional forms. Beginning with the simplest notion of security, be sure to keep your printers and copiers locked up when they aren’t being used. That can mean placing your equipment in lock mode once the workday is over, rather than simply allowing them to sleep. Only specific personnel should be able to turn it on with their code or badge the next day. 

Lock the copier room door when the last person leaves, or the last project is completed for the day. This policy keeps the copiers and printers safe for the night and helps to reduce office supply shrinkage. Remember to lock everything up when the day is done, on holidays, and over the weekend. 

Most companies have their security guards do rounds throughout the building, rather than solely relying on what shows up on their security cameras. You can request that the guard not only check on locked office doors but that they double-check that the copiers and printers have been appropriately secured.

For added security measures, consider a security camera in or around the copy room. Or motion sensors can do double duty. They’ll let you know when someone has entered the room after hours. However, motion sensors can also be used to turn the lights on in the copy room, ensuring lower utility bills.

Track Printer and Copier Usage

When the copiers and printers are being used, or are available for use, ensure security measures are in place for tracking purposes. 

Every person who is approved to use the copiers should have a code or badge that will track their usage. This not only helps you track who is using copiers and when, which can help you track security breaches, but it also helps you track  usage overages. 

Is there always one person who seems to use the lion’s share of color ink? Or is there someone with projects that require hundreds of pages in a single go?  

Their copier use may very well be warranted given their specific jobs and projects. Their usage may also be a way to detect inefficiencies and even detect potential security issues.

Encrypt Data on the Printer or Copier Hard Drive

We often take encryption for granted. Most of our wireless routers offer encryption. When we use Skype or other communication platforms, we are working with some level of encryption. In the workplace, most companies encrypt data and their emails. 

The workplace also typically has rules regarding what personal sites can be visited and what Internet surfing can be done while using work assets. This extends beyond computers to the copiers and printers. 

Even though printers and copiers can pull documents from the hard drive and email them outside the network, that doesn’t mean employees can use these devices to send housing documents to their spouse or medical records to their physician.  

By instituting end-to-end encryption regarding your copiers and printers, you’ll not only be protecting your company but your entire staff and your clients. Data is only as vulnerable as your security measures, so bring the team onboard and double-check for weaknesses. 

Secure Your Wireless Network

Passwords for your wireless security system are crucial. Even though everyone feels like this is obvious, it can’t be stressed enough. This note about wireless security is especially relevant these days, with so many people working remotely. 

Remote workers are not just working from home. They’re working from coffee shops, restaurants, open libraries, and the homes of friends and family. The network itself can be a risk, which is one of the many reasons to require the use of a VPN. However, the actual passwords people choose are also vital. 

Create rules for your staff regarding passwords and require that they uphold these rules by casting a minimum requirement in order for passwords to be reset. Require longer passwords that must be a string or non-consecutive numbers, a mix of lower case and capitalized letters, ensure that the letters are not a recognized word from the dictionary, and require at least one symbol. Lastly, require that their passwords be changed often. For some companies, this may be every month. For others, it may be every quarter. Whatever the frequency, make it a company-wide policy that is enforced by the IT department and limited access to systems until a password has been changed and is compliant. 

Final Thoughts on Wireless Security

Wireless security is more than something the IT department does when they are setting up the network or connecting office equipment. It’s something that involves every employee. 

Security begins with the company's physical security, including all equipment, in particular, networked devices, such as copiers and printers. 

Security means tracking usage across departments and individuals. Tracking access, whether the employees are in the building or accessing the copiers and printers remotely, is also vital. Not only does this mean you’ll track usage, but you’ll also lower costs and take part in the development of a more efficient, productive team. 

Encrypt data on your copiers and printers as well as the hard drive. Think of all the sensitive materials copied or printed, scanned, or accessed through the copier every day. Not only can a lack of encryption risk client information and other sensitive data, but it can reveal projects and crucial information to any competitors who may be listening. 

Secure your wireless network with the best passwords and policies to keep everyone’s systems secure and safe. Copiers and printers come with a variety of available security options. While you’ll want to choose something that is an excellent solution for your company in terms of size and output, don’t skimp on the security options. It can save you, your people, and your company a lot of exposure, frustration, and embarrassment. 

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