Many people worry about someone hacking their computer. However those same people are not really thinking about their wireless printer getting breached. Printers are tools that most individuals only use sporadically e.g., when you want to print out tax forms or mailing labels.
Printers tend to be out of sight, out of mind – at least until you need to print something and find you’ve run out of ink anyway! Be assured however, that devices such as printers are not out of the mind of hackers. In fact, unsecured printers are a classic way for criminals to gain access to a home network.
To illustrate this point, Cybernews purposely hacked printers. It hijacked nearly 28,000 unsecured printers globally with a success rate of 56%. What did it do once it gained access? Ironically, it made the printers print out a guide on printer security.
Are you wondering how exposed your network is from your printer? We’ve got some security tips below to help. These tips can enable you to better secure your network, which keeps data on all devices more secure.
1. Change the Default Login Credentials
When you buy a new printer, it will likely have included default information. Manufacturers give you a way to connect and set up your device and this usually involves default login information.
Immediately change that information during set up as hackers use a master list of all these defaults. They plug it into an automated script and just keep trying them all until they get a hit. Change these, and make sure you create a strong password.
2. Keep Printer Firmware Updated
Keeping firmware updated is vital to keeping your printer secure. Hardware needs updating just like computers, software, and apps do. Those updates often contain important security patches.
Firmware updates aren’t usually as visible as software updates. Software and OS updates usually give you a popup notification, but updates to the drivers and firmware that run printers, aren’t so visible.
Some of the places you can check for firmware updates are:
- The PC manufacturer’s utility app on a connected device
- The printer’s information panel
- The printer manufacturer’s app installed on a PC
3. Use a Network Firewall
A network firewall is important to ensure the monitoring of traffic. Firewalls can block suspicious activity to keep hackers out of your network. You should configure the firewall to watch incoming and outgoing printer traffic.
4. Put Your Printer on a Guest Network
Most of today’s home routers allow you to set up a guest network. This is a separate Wi-Fi that runs from the same router you use for your main network. It’s harder for hackers to get from one network to another.
Keeping a less secure device separated from computers and phones improves security. You can still print to your printer from devices on another network, you just need to have things configured correctly. If you need help with that, just let us know.
5. Disable Unused Ports or Services
IoT devices, like printers, often have many ways to connect. You may not need all the ports or services that come with your printer. These ports are risk areas where hackers could find a way in.
It’s best to disable any ports and sharing features that you don’t need to reduce the risk of a breach.
6. Unplug It When Not in Use
Most home printers aren’t used as much as work printers. People may only use them once a month or a few times a year. If you’re not using your printer constantly, unplug it when not in use.
One sure-fire way to cut off a hacker’s access is to unplug the device. When it’s shut down, no access is available at all.
7. Teach Your Family Cybersecurity Best Practices
Your printer is just one device on your network. Most families connect several devices to their home Wi-Fi. In 2022, the average number of connected devices per U.S. household was a staggering 22.
Families need to know and adopt good cyber habits. This keeps everyone’s data more secure. It also helps you avoid costly identity theft breaches or the takeover of things like baby monitors.
Some standard best practices to follow for good cyber hygiene are:
- Always use strong passwords (at least 10-12 characters which include a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols)
- Keep software and firmware on all devices updated
- Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) wherever possible
- Enable device firewalls and other protections
- All devices should have a good antivirus installed
- Never login to an account from a link you receive via email or text
- Learn how to identify phishing and get a second opinion before clicking on any links or downloads
- Get a security check-up from a pro at least every year or two.
Get Some Help Keeping Your Family’s Data Secure
IT pros don’t only work with businesses. We also help families ensure their data is safe and devices are running smoothly. Give us a call today to schedule a home security check-up.
Article used with permission from The Technology Press.