Wireless printing has changed the way that office environments operate. It gives users the ability to dispatch print jobs remotely, without having to be physically connected to a printer. But this unprecedented convenience has also opened up users of all levels – from individuals to corporations – to potentially damaging security risks. Without tight network security protocols in place, sensitive information can be intercepted by unauthorized parties. Here’s a quick look at some of the big players in printer security and what they’re doing shore up the risks inherent in wireless printing.
Although known primarily as the makers of Windows operating systems and desktop software suites like Word, Excel and PowerPoint, it’s impossible to separate Microsoft from the rest of the herd of major players in printer security. Windows printer security settings are built in to the operating systems to provide users a fail-safe method of shoring up potential security gaps. This is accomplished by enabling administrators to set permissions in the security tab that controls which users in a network have access to a shared printer.
As one of the world’s leading manufacturers of printers, Hewlett Packard is at the forefront of providing state of the art wireless printing security to its customers. Recent efforts in the area include strengthening print management security options to benefit enterprise IT infrastructures that are at great risk of data breaches. HP’s focus resulted in the company releasing a suite of secure printing solutions that include automated identity certificates and other tools to restrict printer access to authorized users.
Also at the forefront of modern printer security is Canon, the Japanese-headquartered company that produces cameras in addition to consumer and enterprise printers. Canon is among the heavyweight multifunction printer manufacturers who are urging users to adopt stricter network security measures to keep their private information out of the wrong hands. In 2014, Canon came under scrutiny when a hacker publicly demonstrated a weakness in the web interface of one of its popular printers by installing a pixelated but playable version of the 90s video game “Doom” on its menu screen. In response, Canon released a firmware update to close the security gap. Despite this incident, Canon remains among the major players consistently working toward improving printer security for users.
A world leader in the development of printer and copier technology, Xerox multifunction printers are manufactured with built-in features that significantly limit the possibility of unauthorized access. Like all of the major players in printer security, Xerox employs data encryption and complex network security features to provide users with adequate tools for best protection against unauthorized access to wireless printers.
The growing risk of hacker attacks and massive data breaches has led to the front and center placement of security features in consumer and enterprise printers. Some of the features to look for when shopping for a printer to serve your needs include Internet Protocol filtering, which restricts access to a printer based on the device’s IP address; Secure Socket Layer technology to encrypt documents during wireless transfer; and network authentication requirements that can be used to set up user IDs and passwords. Exploring additional operating system security features and pairing them up with your printers is strongly recommended. As always, the best course of action for any user concerned about printer security is to download firmware security updates as they come available from printer manufacturers.