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How Brother print technology can protect your business against cyberattacks

Printers are more sophisticated than ever. You can now email print jobs, scan direct to network folders and use advanced features like NFC and fingerprint identification. But added convenience brings more risk.

With a full operating system, access to local networks and devices, and the ability to handle large amounts of sensitive data, printers are the perfect target for cybercriminals. An attacker could use an Internet of Things search engine like Shodan or Censys to discover an unsecured printer and take control of it. Considering the average cost to a business of a cyberattack is over £25,000, an unsecured printer can be an expensive liability.

With this in mind it's shocking to think that only a quarter of IT professionals are looking to invest in print security. This could leave many organisations vulnerable to attack. It’s a concerning situation, but one that can be remedied with the right support and direction. Security is one of the key pillars of business at Brother, so we’re in an ideal position to ensure you have the protection you need. As a good starting point, I’d strongly recommend studying and following the Cyber Essentials guidelines.

What is Cyber Essentials?

Cyber Essentials is an initiative developed by the National Cyber Security Centre, the UK’s independent authority on cybersecurity. It includes five technical controls designed to protect your organisation against a whole range of the most common cyberattacks. Read on to discover the topics covered and how Brother print solutions have been developed to help you follow Cyber Essentials guidance.

1. Secure your internet connection

The first thing Cyber Essentials recommends is ensuring a secure internet connection. It’s crucial to use a router or firewall when connecting your printer to the internet, as shown in the illustration below. Many printers operate from an external IP address by default, so switching to an internal one straight away is a must. Brother printers will be protected from unauthorised access if you use an ISP and a private IP address. We also provide IPSec and TLS/SSL encryption to keep your documents safe over the network.

Print security illustration depicting home and business internet connection stages from internet through to device

2. Secure your devices and software

When installing new printers, always make sure you check the settings of devices and software. In order to make them easily connectable, manufacturers often set default configurations to be as open as possible. These settings rarely get changed, especially in smaller organisations where focus may be needed elsewhere. With default passwords and free access to all functions, this leaves your printer open to attack and abuse. Brother helps you prevent data falling into the wrong hands by authenticating users via Active Directory, LDAP or NFC. Another useful – although often overlooked – way to secure your device is to always use manufacturer genuine supplies. Most IT professionals will be aware of the sometimes lacklustre performance of non-genuine inks and toners. But they can also be a security risk. Poor toner adhesion can lead to confidential information being imprinted on printer rolls, before being reprinted onto the next item out. Many non-genuine brands also suffer from poor longevity and fading, leaving you open to document tampering. Genuine supplies such as Brother’s are rigorously tested and come with accreditation from independent bodies like PIRA. They’re a good place to start to keep your device safe.

3. Control access to your data and services

It’s an unfortunate fact of business that your printers may need protecting from your staff as well as external actors, whether they’re simply misusing functions or have more malicious intentions. Cyber Essentials suggests limiting access to certain staff accounts to reduce the risk of problems. With Brother devices, you have full control over how users interact with your printer’s features. Our secure function lock allows you to restrict certain features to certain users, and you can prescribe scan-to folders so documents always end up in the right place. We also provide numerous features to protect documents themselves. Our pull printing technology, for instance, ensures files aren’t printed until released by a user’s unique PIN or NFC card. That way, you can be sure that nobody else has seen or copied any confidential information. The same goes for scanning. By password protecting scanned documents you can ensure only intended recipients can view them.

4. Protect yourself from viruses and other malware

British SMEs are under constant threat from criminals, with over 9,700 cyberattacks every day, many of these using malware or viruses to infect networks. One example Cyber Essentials refers to in its guidance is ransomware, which makes infected systems unusable until the owner pays a ransom. You may associate viruses and malware mainly with PCs, but your printer is also on the front line of this battle. One thing we’re seeing more and more of is phishing scams that send emails from hacked printers. Our professional printer range can help defend your business from these sorts of threats. We use automatic intrusion detection to constantly monitor against hacking. If an attack is detected, your printer will take preventative measures to keep you and your network secure. The end-to-end encryption our printers use also prevents your data from being intercepted on the way to the printer or while it’s stored on the printer itself.

5. Keep your devices and software up to date

Cyber Essentials describes applying updates as one of the most important things you can do to improve security. Fortunately, it can be one of the quickest and cheapest too – although many IT Managers may find that getting everyone on the network to install updates can be a bit like herding cats. By keeping on top of password management, changing default settings and updating firmware as soon as new versions become available, you can go a long way to keeping your printer protected. If you’re looking for a simple, effective way to keep printers up to date and secure, consider rolling out a Managed Print Service (MPS). MPS solutions such as Brother’s come with an initial, in-depth security assessment to identify print and IP risks your organisation faces. We’ll then draw up a security plan to mitigate those risks, as well as future proofing against further potential threats.

Follow the guidelines and find the right partner

Considering that more than 10% of all security incidents affecting businesses involve a printer – 59% of which result in data loss – it’s never been more crucial to invest in robust print security. Following Cyber Essentials guidance is key, but in this environment, it also pays to choose a print partner with exceptional security credentials. At Brother, we work side-by-side with our customers to keep their print environment up to date, efficient and secure. All of our products offer end-to-end encryption and port-based access control, allowing users to connect and share documents with confidence. And of course, we back it all up with comprehensive support.

If you’d like to learn more about effective print security, take a look at our new e-book, ‘The print security blind spot’, or get in touch with a member of our team of experts.

 

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