Can your printer be hacked? The short answer is yes. Office printers, like all electronic devices, can be hacked by those with bad intentions.
Unfortunately, printer security is typically much weaker than computers. A would-be hacker can simply install malware through an infected flash drive, or, in some cases, get unauthorized access to your printer from their home.
Hacked printers can be used as stepping stones to breach your company’s data and start ransomware—a method of money extortion from a business. Obviously, this is not a situation you want to find yourself in, so being proactive is key.
Let’s break things down in more detail.
How to Tell if Your Printer Is Hacked
While you’re unlikely to immediately recognize that someone has breached your printer, there are some telltale signs that should trigger alarm bells:
1. Unauthorized Printing
Random advertisements, offensive texts, and gibberish records are common forms of unauthorized printing carried out by online attackers. Typically, they produce these odd documents after gaining access to your printer ports.
2. Error Messages
Hacked printers typically produce error messages on printed documents. Sometimes, they might just produce an error message and nothing more. If you encounter these strange error messages, consider them a warning sign.
How to Fix a Hacked Printer
Follow this guide to restore your printer’s security:
1. Disconnect From the Internet and Limit Network Printing
Disconnect all your business printers from the internet immediately, then configure your network settings to limit which devices have printer access. Doing so gives you more control and oversight over who uses the printers and the files used for printing.
When your printers are not in use, always make it a habit to turn them off. Printers with no powers are less likely to be hacked. This is a good habit to get into when it comes to the security of any internet-connected device.
2. Change Login Credentials
If your printer uses login credentials for security purposes, change them immediately. Chances are your printer’s administrator is still using a default username and password—these are light work for savvy online hackers.
Here are some tips for more secure passwords:
- Increase your password length to more than eight characters.
- Combine capitalization, symbols, and numbers to create a unique password.
- Use two-factor authentication if possible
It’s best to keep your printer’s login credentials to yourself and a couple of trusted people. Only share this information with employees as needed. Further, ensure your printer is set to ask for this information whenever it is being used. Security features can only protect you if they’re actually being used!
3. Close Printer Router Ports
These ports are how your printers receive printing tasks, but they’re also how hackers get into your printer’s network. Close the following if hacked:
- IPP Port or Port 631 – This port allows you to send and monitor print jobs, but leaves your printer vulnerable on the internet. Anyone with the right tools can detect your printer’s name, location, firmware, and Wi-Fi SSID.
- Port 9100 – An open 9100 port leaves your printer vulnerable and exposed to advanced search engines online. Leaving this open also means your printer will accept any print job from anyone with access to the printer.
How to Improve Printer Security
If you’ve navigated the headache that is a hacked printer, you’re probably now looking for ways to ensure it never happens again. Here are our suggestions:
1. Invest in a Firewall
This software restricts and blocks threats from external sources, acting as another line of defence between your personal information and pesky intruders. Remember: protecting your data is always a worthwhile investment!
2. Update Your Printer Firmware
When was the last time you updated your printer firmware? If it’s been a while, check your printer software for new updates.
Oftentimes, these updates patch security holes that manufacturers have identified in their products. Stay proactive and on top of these updates to ensure your printer is running at its best and most secure. Read the patch notes for more details!
3. Use a VPN
Finding a printer’s IP address is easy when it’s connected to the internet.
Rather than having it be public knowledge, consider using a VPN to reroute this connection to a private and secured network. Doing this hides your IP address from the world so hackers can’t so accurately get this information.
4. Subscribe to Print Security Audit Services
Another great way to enhance the security of your printers is by consulting with print security experts that specialize in print security auditing to prevent cyber attacks and monitor paper management. Stay protected and save on printing costs!
Upgrade Your Printers For Improved Security
Is your printer hacked? Well, now you know what to do—and how to avoid it.
However, knowing how to tell if your printer is hacked or even how to fix a hacked printer can only take you so far. Outdated devices are more vulnerable to cyber-attack, so upgrading is a must if you’re serious about printer security.
Busys.ca sells Konica Minolta, Canon, and Toshiba for a reason. These industry-leading manufacturers are known for their printing capabilities as well as their superb security. Your business is safe with them (and us).
Contact us now and see which models are available!