The real insider threat — the printer on our network

The printer is an easily-overlooked device sitting quietly in our office, yet, it's a real threat. It is connected to the network—often with open ports, forgotten data, and unattended confidential documents left on its trays for anyone to see.

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For years we’ve been talking about insider threat as the biggest cybersecurity risk. While many insider breaches are attributed to human error, the result is still the same—a cybersecurity breach resulting in a drain on the company’s finances. Ponemon Institute’s 2018 Cost of a Data Breach Study found that “the average cost of a data breach globally is $3.86 million, a 6.4 percent increase from the 2017 report.”

What I find interesting, however, is that while we have been focused on the human factor in cyber attacks—rightfully so—we’ve somehow overlooked the printer. Each inconspicuous and unassuming printer sitting in our office is connected to our network—often with open ports, forgotten data on the print network, and unattended confidential documents left on its trays. Who did we say was the insider threat?

For more information about printer risks and best practice solutions, read our new white paper, “Documents are Dangerous.”

While our technology and way of life is evolving exponentially with connected devices such as printers, and the BYOD needs of mobile workers scattered across the globe, hackers have not been asleep. Nefarious actors have been actively seeking new ways to infiltrate and exploit our networks.

The average number of breaches per company has more than tripled over the past five years, from 40 in 2012 to 125 in 2017. Interestingly, 75% of organizations indicated that they lacked confidence that their Internet-connected printers could withstand a cyber attack. As seen from the reports and surveys, printers are an easy target.


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It’s mandatory that organizations protect their printer networks. We must:

  • Ensure that printer security is a critical part of your comprehensive IT security strategy. When creating your security strategy, be mindful of not just the device but how and when it’s used including mobile access.
  • Make security an integral part of every step of the printing and document workflow—from submission through output. Implement Follow-You Printing solutions that ensure no printed document is ever left unattended at a printer or MFP.
  • Employ solutions that provide integration with your Active Directory so that complete adherence to your corporate network security standards and processes is simplified.
  • Utilize print management software that supports common authentication techniques across all printers and MFPs—regardless of type or brand—to work seamlessly with your entire fleet.

According to Ponemon, 60 percent of companies surveyed had a data breach involving printers. Added to this Verizon’s 2018 Protected Health Information Data Breach found that 27 percent of incidents were related to sensitive data on paper.  It’s imperative that you take action immediately to protect not only your printers but the information being outputted. If not, you are placing your organization’s brand and financial well being at risk as confidential and propriety information is compromised.

Documents Are Dangerous Whitepaper

Read our complimentary whitepaper to learn more about your risks and document governance best practices:


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Natasha Bishop

About Natasha Bishop

Natasha Bishop is the Sr. Product Marketing Manager for Nuance Document Imaging’s print management products. Natasha has extensive experience in digital marketing, go-to-market strategy, program management, execution and demand generation. She has a passion for uncovering and engaging expert thought leadership across various industries to better understand market challenges and best practices. Natasha has a Master’s in Business Administration with a focus in Marketing from the University of North Texas, Texas. Follow Natasha on Twitter: @Natasha_D_G