Ask any security expert and they’ll tell you almost every successful hack starts at an end-point. And while much of the focus is given to notebooks, desktops, tablets and smartphones many tend to neglect printers as a potential attack vector.
A number of reports have highlighted the vulnerability of printers and the concerns they raise to CIOs and CSOs.
For example, a recent Ponemon Institute report 62% of survey respondents are pessimistic about their ability to prevent the loss of data contained in printer memory and/or printed hardcopy documents.
Another report, from Red Tiger Security, noted several attacks on corporate infrastructure had been initiated through printers and multi-function devices.
HP has upped the ante with a number of new security features in their newest printers. They’ve added an IDS as well secure printing functions, that used to require a paid license but are now free, along with several other features.
These new features come in HP’s new PageWide printers as well a number of new OfficeJet and LaserJet devices.
These cover almost every sort of business need from small office monochrome lasers to high-end colour multifunction devices.
Older devices will also be supported with the new security features in the coming months through firmware updates that will be made available.
HP’s new Run-Time Intrusion Detection monitors access to the printer and logs all activity.
It integrates with SEIM solutions so administrators and security teams can integrate what’s happening on their printers to ensure they have a complete picture of what’s happening on the network.
In 2013 HP introduced Sure Start in their PCs and they have now extended that to their printers.
If someone attempts to start a printer with an untrusted BIOS or tampers with the BIOS while the printer is running, it will automatically restart from a certified “gold” version of the firmware.
HP JetAdvantage Private Print used to be a fee-based service but is now free. Print jobs are securely stored in the cloud until the user authenticates and claims the job from the printer.Read more: SAP appoints ex-Yahoo security boss in new CSO role
This prevents unauthorised access to confidential print jobs and reduces waste from misprinted jobs. HP JetAdvantage Private Print also supports HP Common Card Reader for authentication.
As well as the hardware support, HP has also introduced HP Secure Managed Print Services (MPS), a new Managed Print Services (MPS) offering focused on security.
HP Secure MPS provides security experts who can help customers secure their print environment and assist them to maintain security and address evolving threats and compliance requirements.
It’s clear that our adversaries are deploying increasingly sophisticated techniques to infiltrate organisations and exfiltrate data.Read more: The week in security: Warnings on open-source spinoffs, US-Europe privacy compromise
And while much of the focus is given to devices that are directly controlled by users, it’s clear that printers and other network-connected peripherals are a potential point of ingress for threat actors.
Thus far, there haven’t been many major exploits launched over printer networks but the possibility remains.
The integration of intrusion detection, BIOS management and improvements to operated procedures supported by functions such as secure print output collection are a good first step to securing this threat vector so that it remains an unattractive target for malicious parties.
Anthony Caruana travelled to Macau as a guest of HP for the launch of HP’s new printer and PC range.
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