Security on the Peripherals – Are Your Printers at Risk?

Businesses often neglect to consider the inherent security vulnerabilities involved with their peripheral devices such as multifunctional printers (MFPs).

December 02, 2011 by Alex Collins, IT Services Consultant

Most companies go to great lengths to ensure that appropriate security measures are applied to servers, workstations, and firewalls through applications and policies. However, businesses often neglect to consider the inherent security vulnerabilities involved with their peripheral devices such as multifunctional printers (MFPs – print, copy, fax and scan all in one system).  A 2010 feature on CBS’ 60 Minutes highlighted many of these risks including documents stored on MFP hard drives to printed information left on MFPs and never picked up.  What many customers don’t know is that some manufacturers’ MFPs come with optional security features that when enabled minimize these risks. All Covered asked Konica Minolta (its parent company) to help shed some light on this important security topic. Here is some helpful advice on securing your MFPs. Understanding the Problem Businesses use secondary computing devices – MFPs - that might create critical security gaps for the following reasons:
  • Unauthorized network access can be a problem with many MFPs.  Because most MFPs don’t have built-in security and are designed to integrate with your business’s mail servers to distribute faxes to users there is always a potential risk that the MFP can be used by hackers to gain access to your company’s network.
  • Potential data exposure is always a risk as most MFPs store data in centrally located areas that do not require credentials for access.  All data residing on your business’s MFP is likely available to anyone that has physical access to the machine.
  • Data theft can be a problem if the MFP or the hard drive within it is stolen or if the device is returned to the vendor for any reason (a lease expires).  In the event that the device or its hard drive is stolen or sent back to the vendor, all data on the hard drive is accessible to whoever is in physical control of the MFP because encryption and password protection are typically not available or enabled on MFPs.
The solution Small businesses need to include security as part of their MFP evaluations.  If it is overlooked your valuable data could be at risk.   Security features every business should look for in MFPs include:
  • Hard Drive Encryption is usually an 8 or 20-character alphanumeric key that encrypts the entire contents of the MFP drive.  Look for products that use real-time 128-bit AES encryption algorithms to provide the highest level of protection if the hard drive is removed from the device.
  • Hard Drive Lock Password is an additional level of security that can be added to a hard drive by electronically locking it to the MFP via a 20-digit alphanumeric password.  The password is applied directly to the BIOS of the hard drive and prevents access to the hard disk data. This also protects the hard drive from unauthorized access if it is removed or switched to another device.
  • Automatic Deletion of Temporary Image Data on a timely basis is another safeguard to data security for MFPs.  An auto deletion time can be set for data stored in the personal or public user boxes, as well as system boxes (e.g. secure print box or encrypted PDF print box). The auto deletion setting will erase the copy, print, scan or fax jobs stored in boxes, depending on the storage period and the time frame selected for deletion.
  • Data Overwrite of Electronic Documents on a Timed Basis eliminates the potential of retrieving temporary data even after it's been deleted. This feature automatically overwrites each completed job, deleting it from MFP and leaving no trace of its data anywhere in the system.  Be sure that the feature is in compliance with U.S. Department of Defense standards by using either one-time overwrite or three times overwrite.
Konica Minolta, has led the industry in providing enhanced security features for the digital era.  With our new bizhub SECURE professional service, Konica Minolta helps customers set up enhanced password protection and data security features on all its bizhub MFPs.   This ensures that any document data residing on bizhub MFP’s internal hard drive is locked down. Learn more Your business’s IT network needs to be secured and protected against potential data exposure especially if your business has to adhere to regulatory guidelines (such as healthcare origination). One of the easiest ways to ensure that it meets these requirements is to purchase MFPs that include the industry’s most cutting-edge security technologies – most of which come standard on Konica Minolta bizhub MFPs.  To learn more about how to secure your network including your MFPs, please contact the experts at All Covered or Konica Minolta.   Dino Pagliarello is director of product marketing at Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A., Inc.