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The price of poor printer security is too costly to be overlooked

As modern printing and imaging solutions have become more versatile and sophisticated to keep up with the needs of users, hackers are working overtime to turn these innovations into vulnerabilities.

Technology evolves fast, and if you don’t consider your printer when it comes to keeping up you could be in some real trouble.

Even if your current office printer is only a few years old, there are already several reasons to seriously consider upgrading to a more recent model. Many of the printers designed, built and sold today are more efficient and functional than those released just a few years ago.

More importantly, they also come with better security - which you’re going to need sooner rather than later. After all, cybercrime is on the rise and more costly than ever.

“As organisations increasingly invest in new technologies like mobile, cloud, and the Internet of Things, the attack surface for more sophisticated adversaries continues to expand,” Sue Barsamian, senior vice president and general manager of Enterprise Security Products at HP says.

“To address this challenging dynamic, we must first understand the threats that pose the most risk and then prioritise the security strategies that can make a difference in minimising the impact.”

Analysis found in HP’s 2018 Cyber Security Guide put the global cost of cybercrime by 2021 at $US6 trillion.

Despite this growing toll, many organisations and individuals are failing to adapt.

"For many organisations, print and document security is often overlooked when it comes to developing a comprehensive IT security strategy," IDC Imaging, Printing, and Document Solutions group research director, Robert Palmer, says.

"Despite measures taken to protect IT infrastructure, the lack of visibility and oversight within the print environment creates a weak link that leaves organisations vulnerable to hackers and other cybersecurity threats." 

How did this happen?

As modern printing and imaging solutions have become more versatile and sophisticated to keep up with the needs of users, hackers are working overtime to turn these innovations into vulnerabilities. As a result, choosing the right printer has become as much of a security decision as it is a productivity-based one. 

Modern printers have to handle connections from desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones and cloud or other remote printing services. While much of this functionality has been necessary to deal with the realities of modern workplaces and the needs of contemporary users, it also increases the responsibility of vendors when it comes to ensuring their new, feature-laden, devices are designed to be secure from day one.

HP Fellow and Chief Technologist Vali Ali says security and detection capabilities need to be built into devices that live on the network, not bolted on afterwards.

“Every device purchase is a security decision,” she says, arguing that security is a combination of technology, awareness, process and governance.

How are vendors responding to this new threat?

Every vendor is responding in their own way but HP’s efforts to make modern cybersecurity a central tenet of their brand have been highlighted by industry bodies and analysts alike.

HP was recently named the “Most Reliable Business Printer & MFP Brand 2018–2021” at the inaugural Buyers Lab Reliability awards, which recognises manufacturers whose products are determined to be the most reliable

Marlene Orr, Director of Printer and MFP Analysis at Buyers Lab, says that “when it comes to tested reliability, no other brand even comes close to HP’s performance.” 

According to IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Security Solutions and Services 2017 Vendor Assessment, “HP Inc. is leading the charge among all hardcopy vendors around raising awareness and visibility for print and document security concerns.”

“HP Inc.’s approach to security takes the entire print and document infrastructure into account, beginning with locking down the device and extending into all aspects of device usage and content protection.”

Such security-minded features can be found in the company’s latest range of A3 enterprise printers and, in particular, in the HP LaserJet Managed Flow E87660z.

HP’s most Secure Printing

Billed as HP’s most secure printer yet, the E87660z can automatically monitor threats, detect instructions and validate operating software thanks to a suite of natively-integrated security measures.

BIOS firmware has been increasingly subject to a number of cyber-attacks in recent years because it’s very difficult to detect intrusion this way. In one study, Verizon’s 2016 Data Breach Investigations Report, found that this approach is increasingly being embraced by attackers. Analysts saw a 132% spike in incidents targeting notebooks and desktops over the previous year. Worse still, once malware has been installed in a printer’s BIOS, it can allow an attacker to maintain a persistence presence on the network.

In response to this trend, HP’s Sure Start technology works behind the scenes to validate the integrity of the E87660z BIOS. If it finds the firmware has been modified or compromised it automatically restarts and restores itself to a predetermined safe, “golden copy”, without the user or IT needing to get involved.

HP’s FutureSmart firmware is also found in all of HP’s enterprise-class devices. This feature whitelists code to ensure only authentic HP code is loaded into memory. If an anomaly is detected, the printer automatically sends a notice to IT and reboots itself to a secure, offline state.

In addition, for as long as the E87660z is connected to a network, it will be on the lookout for anomalies and intrusions. All run-time code memory is write-protected and all data memory is rendered non-executable.

The E87660z also boasts scan speeds of up to 120/240 imp (simplex/duplex), a pull-out keyboard, auto-tone, auto-orientation, auto-page-crop, embedded OCR and HP’s proprietary EveryPage technology.

Looking forward

In 2018, yesterday’s printers may be easily exploited by cybercriminals. Today’s printing and imaging solutions, such as the HP LaserJet Managed Flow E87660z, offer an easy first-step towards combating this growing threat. However, as advanced and vital as they are, they are still only a first step.

For organisations looking to maintain their security and credibility, the education of staff and the updating of old security procedures to account for modern cybersecurity threats has to follow. The price of poor security is simply too costly to be overlooked.

Click here to learn more about HP Printer Security as well as the latest range of HP A3 Printers.

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Tags businesssecurity incidentsHPsecurity industryPrinterenterpriseprint servicesprintingprinting fleetsecuirty flaw

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IDG Online Staff

PC World
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