CyberCrimeSecurity

HP Inc: It’s Time To Stop Ignoring Printer Security

Sam Pudwell joined Silicon UK as a reporter in December 2016. As well as being the resident Cloud aficionado, he covers areas such as cyber security, government IT and sports technology, with the aim of going to as many events as possible.

Printers are the biggest security threat to businesses, claims HP

Businesses are becoming increasingly vigilant when it comes to securing their endpoints but HP Inc. believes there is a glaring oversight.

The company says that organisations have spent a lot of money securing devices such as smartphones, laptops and desktops, but have neglected to do the same with the printer. Indeed, HP says it is this much lamented piece of office equipment that poses the biggest security risk.

“The other devices which sit in most homes and almost all offices around the world are printers”, said HP’s EMEA President Nick Lazaridis at the company’s security summit in London this week. “We promote the fact that you can print remotely these days, but anything with an IP address can be hacked. These printers are now fully-functioning clients on networks, but still a lot of people don’t know the risks.

“Do you know for sure that when you send a print job to a printer, that printer is encrypting the data you’re sending? That’s a very critical conversation we’re having now with a lot of customers around endpoint security.”

Forgotten threat

HP research suggests just 53 percent of IT managers realise printers are vulnerable to cyber crime and just 2 percent of printers are secure, making them easy targets for hackers compared to other devices where security is now often built-in.

One of the main problems is that traditional printer security has simply not been focused in the right place. 

“While you hear in the printing industry more conversations and messaging around security, a lot of that emphasis is around the document and around the data, but very little around what needs to be done to actually protect the device at a physical and firmware level,” added David Ryan, general manager of HP’s Print Business in EMEA.

“The biggest area of focus for us is around securing the device. The printer really is a computer, but people don’t think about it that way today. Believe me, hackers do. The time is now to focus on printer security given the damage they can do.”

HP A3 Printers

This is exactly what HP has done with this week’s launch of its A3 multifunction printers, which it describes as “the most advanced and secure” printers of their kind.

One of the security features included in the A3 printers is HP Sure Start, a self-updating technology that was initially developed for PCs to help them protect themselves against malicious attacks or malfunctions.

They also feature a whitelisting system, where the printer “knows what code it will run and if there’s an attempt to introduce external code to effectively usurp that printing device, the printer will restart and protect itself from the attack”, along with communication encryption and security monitoring tools.

“The copier market is an industry ready for change, an industry more rooted in the past”, said Ryan. “We believe it’s time to replace these older, less secure printer devices.”

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