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Why Protecting Your Printers from Cybercrime Is a Must (And 8 Tips for Improving Printer Security)

Printing devices are often overlooked when it comes to security. But the reality is, that cybercriminals can hack your printer to get confidential information.

Your printer is probably the last piece of computer equipment you thought needed protection from cybercriminals.

But the truth is very different.

Attackers actively try to locate the weakest links in security to gain access to and exploit valuable data. And among the weakest links is the printer.

The thing with printers nowadays is that they have access to your devices, network, and the internet. This new open-access functionality makes them an ideal target for cyberattacks.

Unfortunately, many business owners overlook the importance of securing their printers and mainly focus on computers and mobile phones.

Most people still perceive printers as internal devices that serve basic functions. For this very reason, they are an easy target for cybercriminals.

Other than performing unauthorized print jobs, hackers can access confidential information as well as all connected computers and networks all through a printer.

You may also not be aware of the amount of valuable data your printer can store about you – tax files, bank details, financial records, employee information, personal information, etc. All a hacker needs to do is get into the operating system of your printer, and they can collect this sensitive data.

If you’ve just realized the importance of securing your printer, keep reading. This article shares eight tips to help you do just that.

THE 8 TIPS
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TIP #1. MAKE SURE YOUR PRINTERS ARE CONFIGURED CORRECTLY

Many things can make a printer vulnerable to cyber threats and security breaches. So, you want to get the basics right to ensure the attacks don’t happen to you.

To start with, make sure to change the default password on your printer. Since anyone can access a printer remotely, a simple “123456” code won’t suffice.

Second, make sure you’re using your own router to print files remotely. Never connect to “Guest” networks.

TIP #2. INSPECT PRINT TRAYS REGULARLY

This one is a no-brainer, but everyone could use it as a reminder. Make sure to check your print trays and get rid of unused pages carrying sensitive information. There’s no easier way to prevent data leaks than this.

Alternatively, you can get a shredder for your office and shred the papers you don’t want anyone to see.

TIP #3. INSTALL MALWARE AND FIRMWARE UPDATES

Invest time and effort to ensure that your malware and firmware protection are up to date and can handle all types of hacks.

The good news is that many printers come with pre-built malware protection.

HP, for example, installs the HP “SureStart” software in their printers that monitors approaching targets when the printer is on. The software can shut down the device if an attack comes its way. This is a great way to prevent attacks from spreading further within the network.

TIP #4. LIMIT ACCESS TO THE NETWORK

Unprotected printers in a network are an extremely easy target for cybercriminals. Sure, businesses and offices require printers to access networks to perform remote prints. But if you can do the job by disabling the network access, make sure you do that.

If not, tweak the printer and network settings to only allow the device to take print jobs from the network you trust. This will help avoid outside interference and security breaches.

TIP #5. UPDATE YOUR PRINTERS

Updating a printer is equally as important as updating your phone to the latest software. Much like the way iOS developers look for bugs and fix them in a new update, printer manufacturers work toward known device vulnerabilities and update the software for added protection.

Look for printer updates so you can easily overcome known threats to the printer. Ideally, update your printers every quarter to get the most out of the security benefits.

TIP #6. INSTALL A FIREWALL

If you run an office, chances are you already have a firewall. But in case you missed this requirement, now’s the time to do it.

Using a reliable firewall helps keep printers safe from cybercriminals.

Your computers most likely come with pre-built firewalls, and all you need to do is keep them enabled. But there are also specialized firewalls for homes and offices that offer advanced security and make it virtually impossible for anyone to break in.

TIP #7. ENCRYPT YOUR STORAGE

Printers with shared networks can perform distance printing. And when a print job is in transit and travels from a computer to a printer, hackers can intercept the data and exploit it.

To keep this from happening, encrypt your print jobs. Also, make sure the sensitive data on your printer’s hard or internal drive is encrypted as well.

Keep in mind that when you print a document, that file is often stored as an image within the printer and makes it an easy target for hackers. It’s why you should use an encryption tool to protect your data. Luckily, many modern printers have this tool pre-built.

You can use the tool to set up a secure password that allows printer storage encryption, remove user IDs and ex-employee access, delete documents from the print queue once they’re printed, and much more.

TIP #8. EDUCATE YOUR EMPLOYEES

If you work in an office, chances are you aren’t the only person using the printer. Everyone that has access to it needs to be aware of the responsibilities that come with its usage. Make sure to talk to your employees about ways to ensure both the physical and virtual safety of the printers.

Your staff should also be careful when using their mobile devices to print, as smartphones are easier to hack. Explain to them what phishing scams are and how they can avoid being the victim.

Finally, make sure it’s clear to them how they can use confidential information in your company

IT’S TIME TO ENSURE PRINTER SECURITY

Printers are the most overlooked devices when it comes to security. Given how most business owners consider them as merely internal devices whose sole function is to print documents, it’s no wonder they are a weak spot security-wise.

Whether you use printers in your office or at home, take a moment to see how you can enhance its security before your next printing job.

As cybercriminals are a growing concern, each of us is responsible for protecting our data. Luckily, the tips from this article will help you bring your printer’s security to another level.

If you need more insight into protecting the security of your printers, get in touch with us today. We can set up a 10-15-minute chat to discuss how you can implement these changes and keep cybercriminals away.

 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

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Which Type of Hackers is Endangering Your Business Data? (And How to Protect Your Sensitive Info from Them)

Your data is pivotal to running a successful company. If you don’t have proper security measures in place, hackers can easily steal your data and take you out of business.

Cybercriminals might be the biggest threat facing your company. Besides gaining access to your money and accounts, they can also take over critical software, preventing you from collaborating with clients.

Any organization can fall victim to hacking. However, small and medium businesses are particularly at risk.

Why?

Too often, their owners don’t always address cybersecurity when launching their company. Sometimes, they even just hire the first IT service provider they see. They also don’t know how to shield themselves from online attackers, making them low-risk targets.

As a result, these organizations often go under due to the loss of sensitive data. It isn’t a risk you can take.

To help mitigate it, this article will introduce you to the various types of hackers and explain how to protect your business from them.

THE 5 TYPES OF HACKERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Here’s a quick list of potential hackers, depending on what they’re after:

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#1. HACKERS WHO ARE AFTER PERSONAL INFORMATION

Many hackers are dying to get their hands on the personal information of your clients and employees. It includes birth dates, financial data, and social security numbers.

Social security numbers might be the most valuable asset they want to get ahold of since cybercriminals can use them for various purposes. For instance, they can perform tax fraud, open credit accounts, and make other significant identity breaches.

In addition, financial data can be utilized for fraudulent activities and purchases, especially if it lacks robust digital security systems.

#2. HACKERS WHO WANT TO GET INTO THE DIGITAL  INFRASTRUCTURE

Storage and data servers are expensive – and hackers know that.

In order for them to cut costs, hackers may aim to store their applications and data on your infrastructure instead. The better your infrastructure, the more likely cybercriminals are to target it. This can strain your network to the limits and have devastating effects on your business.

Unsurprisingly, tech companies are some of the most common victims of this type of hacking.

The common indicators that a hacker has tapped into your digital infrastructure include:

  • Running out of storage faster than usual
  • Your network suffers slowdowns
  • You may have unknown devices on your network.

#3. HACKERS WHO ARE AFTER CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION

Few business aspects are as important as your intellectual property (IP). Your products and services enable you to stand out from the competition and strike a chord with the target audience.

A huge problem arises if hackers steal the design of your upcoming product before you launch it or submit your patent. A competitor may obtain the information, allowing them to hit the market first and undercut your sales.

#4. HACKERS WHO WANT TO GET ACCOUNT DATA

Sure, you and your IT service provider might have done enough so that hackers might not be able to obtain financial data. But are your employees’ accounts secure?

If hackers compromise them, they may let them run scams and gain information to disrupt your operations.

For example, losing CEO login credentials can be devastating. Besides granting hackers access to sensitive information, it also helps them impersonate the CEO. In return, they can solicit information from employees or clients and halt your operations.

This data breach can lead to widespread confusion, tarnishing your reputation.

#5. HACKERS WHO AIM TO HAVE NETWORK CONTROL

In some cases, hackers aren’t after data. Instead, they want to gain control of the entire network. And to make it happen, they launch ransomware attacks.

These activities enable them to lock you out of the system and make data inaccessible until you pay a ransom. They’re typically initiated through spam, phishing emails, and online ads.

The average ransom amount stands at approximately $30,000, but the loss caused by business disruption is much more significant.

HOW TO PROTECT YOUR BUSINESS

Now that you know how hackers can compromise your company, let’s check out 5 effective ways to protect yourself:

WAY #1. INVESTING IN SECURITY RESOURCES

A key factor ignored by many owners is the amount of money and time devoted to cybersecurity. Avoid this mistake by allocating enough resources to set up solid defensive measures. Make sure to invest in a reliable IT service provider to help you out.

This way, your online accounts, hardware, and network should be more secure.

WAY #2. TRAINING YOUR TEAM

Most security systems have weaknesses. And their employees are usually the biggest ones.

For this reason, HR managers and CEOs should ensure their staff follows optimal security measures, both in-office and at home. They must all remember that any phone or laptop they use for work can be a weak point and entryway for hackers.

To introduce your employees to the best security practices, consider arranging security education and training for a month once a year. You can talk about different aspects of your company and the steps necessary to deter cyber criminals, for example.

Sound education can go a long way in promoting a healthy security culture.

WAY #3. ADDING AUTHENTICATION

There are many valuable tools you can use to fend off hackers. One of them is two-factor authentication (2FA) – a simple yet effective weapon against scammers.

This measure requires each user to verify their identity to access your system. You could use it on all business-related accounts to reduce the chances of cybercrime.

Furthermore, encourage your team members to activate 2FA on personal accounts. This way, they’ll be more likely to follow appropriate security practices, reducing the risk of compromised devices and data breaches.

WAY #4. LEVERAGING SOFTWARE

Computer viruses are another go-to tool for hackers. And a great way to deal with them is to incorporate antivirus software.

Make sure your built-in antivirus software is up to date. Also, you can consider a corporate package from trusted companies like BitDefender, Norton, McAfee, and Total AV.

Each machine that can access work resources should rely on this software. Plus, the user should conduct weekly antivirus scans to lessen the chances of computers getting infected by a virus.

WAY #5. PERFORMING SECURITY CHECKS

Checking your system is vital for optimal cybersecurity. Solid antivirus software is practical, but you shouldn’t disregard manual scans. It’s crucial that your IT service provider does this periodically.

More specifically, check who’s accessed your network and make sure each point of access is authorized. Any suspicious activity must be reviewed and rooted out. Otherwise, these red flags can prove fatal for the company.

STAY ON THE SAFE SIDE

Battling hackers may not be the most exciting part of running a business. However, neglecting cybersecurity turns your company into a sitting duck for scammers. You may lose money, data, and your reputation might suffer irreparable damage.

While there isn’t a bulletproof solution, adopting the outlined tactics should be a strong starting point.

Contact us today if you want to discuss your cybersecurity in greater detail and pinpoint potential risks. We can arrange a quick, non-salesy chat and figure out ways to help you.

 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

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8 Mistakes That Cripple Your Business Continuity Plan

The only way to continue your operations in case of setbacks is to enforce a well-thought-out business continuity plan. However, you’ll need to avoid several mistakes when developing your strategy.

Your operations may seem efficient and failproof, but the reality is that obstacles can happen at any time. Whether you’ve lost a major client or can’t achieve good team dynamics, it’s essential to keep going.

That’s where your business continuity plan (BCP) comes into play.

Your BCP outlines how your company will continue its operations during unplanned service disruptions. It’s more detailed than disaster recovery plans and features contingencies for processes, human resources, assets, and partners. It can also include checklists for equipment and supplies, data backups, and information on emergency responders.

The contents may vary, but a BCP can help you overcome various issues and re-establish productivity to meet critical needs. However, the only way to reap the benefits of your BCP is to avoid making mistakes in the development stage.

This article will outline the eight biggest mistakes you need to avoid when creating your business continuity plan.

THE EIGHT MISTAKES

MISTAKE #1 – DISREGARDING YOUR EMPLOYEES

Organizations who want to get back on track after an unexpected incident should focus on the needs of their employees when devising a BCP. Otherwise, they may be running serious safety risks.

So, plan for every situation that can affect your employees during disruptions. The list includes emergency communication protocols, evacuation routes, and many other key details. In doing so, you’ll ensure your team has all they need to weather the storm.

Moreover, discuss the plan with your staff and elicit their input in critical safety matters. You can also tell them you’ll be there for support if a crisis takes place. This gives them peace of mind, knowing their leader cares about them.

MISTAKE #2 – NOT CONSIDERING SMALL DETAILS

After creating a general BCP, many enterprises fail to think about specific details that ensure they can execute their plan. This is a huge mistake, as it can result in loss of data.

The minor points you should incorporate into your BCP include logistical considerations, such as technology and medical aid support.

For example, informing your medical providers about the plan is crucial because it enables them to make their arrangements on time. You should also tell your key personnel who to contact if they need medical assistance during accidents. Another great idea is to determine how your team can access data securely if they can’t make it to their office.

Taking the smallest details into account can protect your data and even save your staff’s lives. Therefore, don’t leave the development to chance – go through the BCP regularly to make sure it’s effective and up to date.

MISTAKE #3 – FAILURE TO SHOW YOUR STAFF HOW THE PLAN WORKS

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While many leaders brood on downtime, they often fail to demonstrate to their team members how to execute the plan and minimize productivity decrease.

As previously indicated, your employees are integral to the efficacy of your BCP. And the only way to perform their roles correctly is to become well-versed in the plan.

To ensure this, explain how the staff should respond during crises. Tell them how to handle their clients if your systems go down. Don’t forget about the location and schedules that will be effective while the main office is off-limits.

The final part is to have your team practice these tasks so they can complete them more easily when disasters strike.

MISTAKE #4 – PRIORITISING OPERATIONAL CONTINUITY OVER TEAM SAFETY

When accidents occur, it’s understandable why business owners focus on assessing the effects on their business. Nevertheless, considering operational continuity only and neglecting your staff’s safety well-being can have dire consequences.

Your people are crucial to executing your BCP appropriately, so check on them first. Data plans that nobody can facilitate are useless, regardless of their effectiveness.

You have to make sure your staff is safe and reachable after a crisis. The crisis management task force should be able to contact them easily and see if they can help them.

This will help guarantee your team can bounce back after an accident and go back to work quickly.

MISTAKE #5 – HAVING IMPROPER TECH SOLUTIONS

Waiting for natural disasters to strike before establishing toll-free hotlines for your employees is a huge mistake. Likewise, failure to set up data backups might render your systems useless in case of data breaches.

If you have no proper technology to mitigate accidents, you could be exposing your business to higher risks, revenue loss, and prolonged downtime.

To avert this, consult technology specialists or your IT sector to verify your system has all features and components that can keep your networks intact. Such a system should allow you to streamline communications, minimize downtime, and secure your workloads.

MISTAKE #6 – ONLY ONE PERSON MANAGES THE PLAN

Developing a BCP all by yourself is possible, but it’s also more prone to error. A much better approach is to gather people across all your departments to account for all contingencies. Otherwise, you’ll restrict your team’s insight into all the processes and risks under your plan.

Forming a BCP management team that involves multiple functions and departments offers a company-wide perspective to your planning. This diversity can help resolve problems and streamline your strategy.

MISTAKE #7 – USING BROAD GENERALIZATIONS

Continuity plans with broad generalizations often lead to uncertainty and confusion. A BCP needs to be concise and, if possible, explain each detail in short steps. Such forms enable anyone to understand the directions and visualize their roles.

MISTAKE #8 – SKIPPING RISK ASSESSMENT

Risk assessments are a critical step that must take place before developing your BCP. As the name suggests, they can you help discover the potential risks in your area.

Depending on the size of your organization, location, and activities, your company faces different risks. For example, there’s no need to plan for disaster recovery after a hurricane if your region isn’t prone to them. It would only increase your costs and waste time.

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DON’T LET YOUR OPERATIONS GRIND TO A HALT

A detailed BCP goes a long way in improving your response to disasters. Avoiding the above-mentioned mistakes will put you on the right track and help your staff cope with new conditions more easily.

If you need help in creating your BCP, give us a call today. Let’s have an obligation-free chat to determine how we can help you.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.