Movie fans of a certain age will remember iconic films where the super-spy sneaks into the villain's office and snaps photos of secret documents with a miniature camera.
As quaint as these old-school espionage tactics seem, it's actually even easier today for criminals to intercept and exfiltrate data - or for sensitive information to be leaked inadvertently - because of unsecure printers and printing processes.
Network-connected printers are endpoints, just like employee PCs. Companies may spend millions on network security and endpoint protection, but printers are often overlooked. Earlier this year, executives from HP spoke with ZDNet about vulnerabilities exposed by unmonitored printers and copiers. "Typically, we're seeing the printer gets left out and overlooked and left exposed. Businesses can no longer afford to overlook print when it comes to their overall IT cybersecurity strategy," said Ben Vivoda, director of printing systems for HP South Pacific.
Examples cited in the story include one bad actor who stole samples of a company's invoices from a printer tray and rerouted payments, and a case where a rival got hold of one firm's intellectual property and trade secrets over the course of months.
These issues are plaguing the highest levels of government in the US, as well. In a recent ZDNet story about information leaks at the NSA, Editor in Chief Larry Dignan wrote: "Printer security and management have been primarily a cost issue at this point, but the Internet of Things and cybersecurity issues have exposed these relatively boring endpoints as a risk."
The risks are very real, in fact, and they extend from hardware to software to network connections and paper output. Of particular concern is malware that may be installed on the printer itself; this kind of attack can go unnoticed for months or longer while it siphons data and provides hackers with an entry point to the network.
These scenarios are especially problematic for industries where many sensitive business details are shared and disseminated on paper - such as manufacturing, construction, and insurance - and where private information is subject to regulation - such as in healthcare and finance.
Companies that are concerned about security and regulatory compliance must make printer and document protection a priority. That's where HP's new A3 MFPs (multifunction printers) come into play.
Big pages, big security
Last fall, IDC named HP a leader in its first "MarketScape for Security Solutions and Services from Hardcopy vendors" report. Analysts Robert Palmer and Allison Correia write:
"HP's approach to security takes the entire print and document infrastructure into account, beginning with locking down the device and extending into all aspects of device usage and content protection... Organizations should consider HP Inc. when ongoing threat monitoring and risk remediation within the print and document infrastructure is crucial to business operations."
In response, Tuan Tran, General Manager and Global Head of Office Printing Solutions at HP, said: "From elevating awareness of the security risks facing organizations to best-in-class print fleet threat monitoring and risk remediation, security is at the heart of everything we do."
HP's family of A3 MFPs, which print as large as 11 x 17, include the most advanced print security features available today1:
- HP Sure Start inspects the BIOS at boot-up. If there's any sign of compromise, it 'self-heals' by deleting the infected software and loading a pristine copy of the BIOS that's hidden directly in the printer.
- Whitelists ensure that only firmware certified and signed by HP can be loaded onto the MFPs.
- Run Time Intrusion Detection monitors the device memory for unusual activity. If anything is amiss, the device reboots and self-heals.
- HP Connection Inspector evaluates outbound network connection requests from the printer. Suspicious activity, once again, triggers a self-healing reboot.
HP's A3 MFPs include data encryption features for sensitive documents and a secure cloud queue for companies where workers may be collaborating across several office locations. The result is a comprehensive set of security measures that protect data, devices, and documents without requiring heavy intervention from IT.
HP also draws on its decades of expertise in print technology to offer consultative services for companies that are concerned about print security. HP solution designers can tailor secure printing solutions to meet the needs of any-sized business in any industry.
To learn more about HP's A3 MFPs, please click here.
To learn more about HP Print Security, please click here.