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3 Ways Printers Are Out to Get Your Customers — And How Services Can Save the Day

Office Printer
HP's Grad Rosenbaum

Grad Rosenbaum

By Grad Rosenbaum, HP

They look so innocent, sitting there in the corner. But don’t be fooled: Printers are no longer single-function machines whose biggest threat is some toner landing on your shirt. Instead, printers today are packed with new functionality, innovative technology and connectivity. And that means a slew of new challenges related to security, sustainability and cost.

This is a serious problem for unsuspecting office workers, who might be unknowingly ignoring these threats. Here are three ways your customers’ printers might be out to get them, and how you can come to the rescue.

Threat 1: An Open Door for Attackers

At Black Hat in August, Brendan O’Connor of Malice Afterthought Inc. said of printers, “Stop treating them as printers. Treat them as servers, as workstations.”

Malicious hackers are constantly on the prowl for the weakest network link, and it’s often the office printer. In fact, one in three office printers is unsecured, HP notes.

“What we are all not really savvy to is that a printer is really a just a computer under the hood, [one] that can act as a gateway for an attacker,” explains MedSec’s chief executive, Justine Bone, who also serves as a member of HP’s security advisory board. “Then there are much more lucrative and attractive systems that can be reached from that one printer.”

Today, printers are 68 percent more likely to be the source of an external threat than in 2016, and 118 percent more likely to be the source of an internal breach, according to a survey HP commissioned Spiceworks to do in May. Only 30 percent of IT professionals perceive printers as a security risk, but because most printers have access to internal networks, by targeting printers, attackers gain entrée to the network, applications and data.

Customers need to understand that their first line of defense is investing in the most secure printers. IDC reports that printers are much more difficult to harden once they are shipped, underscoring the importance of selecting printers that are already rich in foundational and advanced security features, including threat detection, protection, notification, and with self-healing abilities. Service providers can offer expertise to monitor and manage those printers, keeping them in fighting shape with updates and patches, policies and protocols. With the likelihood of printers being susceptible to breaches, providers need to give customers peace of mind that their printers are receiving the security features and optimization they need.

Threat 2: Driving Efficiencies by Saving Time and Materials

Print materials remain critical at work, at home and on the go, with most people believing print is easier to read, store and archive. After all, even the International Space Station relies on printed content for its most important documents. Still, print has the potential to feel cumbersome, encouraging inefficiencies and waste. New advancements in IT and integrated systems can help printers maintain security and promote efficiency within users. Mobile printing, analytics for optimization and efficient inks are optimizing printers in the workplace.

Pull printing lets users print from any device anywhere and keep it safe and ready until the user has received authentication and the job is released at the printer. Helping your customers set protocols like default duplex printing or printing in “economy” or “draft” mode can deliver …

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