Is Your Printer the New Trojan Horse?

Of all the business machines commonly found in a corporate offices, businesses, schools, government buildings, or even home offices, the traditional office printer is generally perceived as benign and non-threatening. However, in the age of increasingly sophisticated cybersecurity attacks, the printer’s passive function is also the weakest link in an organization’s IT security defense strategy.

Printers pose critical and underappreciated security challenges for offices and, particularly, work-at-home users. Through the seemingly harmless printer, hackers can steal IP addresses, sensitive information and data while gaining access to corporate and home networks. Once attackers successfully compromise a printer, they can remain dormant as long as they want, moving into the network gradually, gaining ever increasing network privileges. Once in, hackers now have access to critical and confidential data and are free to unleash crippling ransomware. This can occur even under the radar of some of the most advanced network security management tools and firewalls. In effect, the cybersecurity industry is beginning to recognize the printer as a modern “Trojan horse.”

SCOPING AND DEFINING THE THREAT According to a 2020 study by privacy and information management research firm the Ponemon Institute, the global average cost of a data breach was $3.86 million. Regulatory fines, legal fees, security expenses, public relation expenses, and lost revenue all contribute to calculating the impact of a data breach. In addition, it’s important to point out that this cost per data breach does not include other critical items like client turnover and potential impacts on stock price, brand value and reputation and customer trust.

The study also notes that 52% of all data breaches are malicious and, notably, a company typically requires 280 days on average to identify and contain a data breach. Driving this trend is the fact that hackers and malevolent actors have become more technologically capable and creative in penetrating enterprise and home networks over the past 20 years. Additionally, the rise of the proverbial “smart home” has led to an explosion in unprotected IoT and smart devices that has only exacerbated the situation.

Contact us today for more information about how to protect your network from printer attacks.