How to React to a Print Security Breach

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Being prepared against possible print security threats, is a challenge. In fact, a 2023 Quocirca survey found that 39 percent of organizations agreed that it is becoming harder to keep up with print security demands.

It’s best to be proactive and plan for the possibility of a print security breach. Hopefully, you won’t need to use it, but it’s better to be prepared in case something happens. 

RELATED: The Expert’s Guide to End-to-End Print Security

By finding this article you’ve taken the first step in addressing the security of your organization’s print fleet. Congrats!

When you finish reading this article, you’ll be armed with knowledge designed to increase the security of your print fleet and decrease the chance of a breach.

Here’s what you’ll learn: 

What Is a Print Security Breach?

If a printer is involved in releasing data to eyes that were not meant to see it – a print security breach has occurred.

RELATED: How to Implement Zero Trust Printing

Print Security Breach Examples

Print security breaches may be more common than you think. While this can be a potentially dangerous situation, it often happens by accident.

Accidental Print Security Breaches

Here’s some examples: 

  • Forgetting to pick up a printed document – An employee prints a document containing sensitive information (e.g. corporate financials, employee personal information, etc.) and accidentally forgets to pick it up off of the printer.
  • Walking away with more than your document – If multiple employees are printing simultaneously at a shared printer, they may need to sort through an entire stack of papers to locate their document. The risk is that an employee could walk away with their document, plus more. This scenario could also cause employees to reprint lost documents, wasting paper.
  • Printer output is visible to customers or visitors – Printers located near a reception desk or other areas accessible to non-employees should have a shield at the document output or include a cover page, to prevent unwanted eyes from viewing printed documents. 

Accidental security breaches typically end up being more of an annoyance than a security threat.

However, even if the breach occurs by accident, there is a security risk. If a printed document containing sensitive information ends up in the wrong hands – they could use the information to do harm.

Pull printing, follow me printing and user authenticated passwords are all ways to increase the security of your document printing practices on shared printers and reduce the risk of a print security breach. 

Print Security Cyberattacks

Cyberattackers can infiltrate an organization’s network in a variety of ways. Unsecured endpoints, such as networked printers, are one of these possibilities.

If a cyberattacker is able to find an unsecured printer or a loophole in the printer’s security software, they could potentially sneak in through your printer and surf into your network – attempting to watch your activity and/or mine your data.

The longer it takes to detect the breach, the more devastating the effects may be. 

RELATED: How to Conduct a Print Security Assessment 

How To Prepare Your Printers Against a Potential Cyberattack 

Print security is often lower on the security agenda than other elements of networked office technology. However, your best defense against a potential cyberattack is to be prepared with multiple layers of printer security and a plan for what to do in case a printer breach does happen.

It’s important to change the default administrator password on your printers. A password of 7 characters or more in length is best, as more characters means more security.

Keeping your printer firmware updated is also important as updates often add new functionality or fix/patch known issues.

And as noted earlier, follow me printing or other secure printing techniques help to ensure that users collect their printed documents and they are not left in the output tray or picked up by others.

In addition, endpoints such as printers, should be included in your IT Security and Business Continuity Plans. Having an incident management plan with a standardized response protocol is an important piece of the puzzle.

What To Do if a Print Security Breach Occurs

In the event of a print security breach, your security response protocol will help to guide your next steps in how to handle this data breach. The protocol should be flexible and allow for different levels of response depending on the potential amount of damage the print security breach could cause.

Here’s a brief outline of a plan: 

  • Confirm – Look into the incident and confirm whether or not a print security breach occurred. Was the breach an employee accident? Or was there malicious intent by someone inside or outside of the organization? How much potential damage was done? These answers will direct how wide of a response that you will need.
  • Contain – Quarantine the area potentially affected by the breach.
  • Communicate – Notify senior staff of your findings and agree on a plan to remedy the situation. Additional communications to affected users may also be necessary.
  • Conquer – Eliminate the threat and repair any damage that may have been caused.
  • Conduct a Security Audit – Review what happened, then create and implement a plan designed to avoid this type of print security breach in the future. 

Your Partner for Print Security Concerns

The Gordon Flesch Company takes print security seriously. That’s why we keep a vigilant eye on the print security practices of our manufacturing partners and customers alike to ensure that, as a team, we’re doing everything in our power to safeguard your systems.

Want to learn more about how to implement a proper endpoint security strategy for printers? Download your free copy of our Quick Guide to Print Security, today! 

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