Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid… of the 4 Scariest Printer Security Risks

At this time of year, thoughts often turn to the ghoulish, the frightening and the macabre. Whether it’s poltergeists, witches or zombies that creep you out, or just the prospect of dozens of children banging on your door and begging for undeserved free sweets. Whatever your fear, Halloween is a time for all things scary.

The chances of being bothered by an angry spirit, broomstick-riding crone or the undead, though? Well, it’s relatively unlikely. There are much more realistic things that should worry you at this time of year (and every other time of year). Like the actual printer security risks that threaten almost every organisation.

But what are these horrifying dangers? Well, we went trick or treating and gathered up a terrifying collection of some of the scariest printer security risks out there. Be afraid. Be very afraid….

Sensitive documents can easily leak out of the business

There’s a genuine hazard that commercially-sensitive documents can escape the office. With traditional office printing set-ups, print copies are especially vulnerable. They can be forgotten and left on the machine or sent to the wrong printer – or even the wrong office. There’s often no real way of tracking who’s printed what and document security can become a thing of real horror. Print jobs needn’t be printed immediately and forgotten about either with systems like Xerox’s Secure Access print system. Just send the job to the print queue and have it printed at a more convenient time, knowing it won’t go missing.

The same can be said of scanned copies. Anyone who can get to the multi-function device can scan any document and email it out, compromising security quite severely. Don’t let out a blood-curdling scream, though. Card-based user identification is the answer. Make it two-factor and add a required PIN or password and you can tighten things up.

Your device isn’t as secure as you might think

Cyber threats are kinda scary. Whether it be hackers, industrial espionage or even rogue nations trying to access data, print networks can be at high risk. MFDs have hard disks and operating systems, and they’re online, so they’re vulnerable to attacks. If a malicious code can be installed onto yours, you’re powerless to prevent hacking and secure data leaving your organisation. If you’re nervous, we can help by providing you with Xerox and McAfee’s whitelisting technology, which continually watches out for and prevents malicious code from running on your machines.

Copies, prints and scans are always written to an MFD’s hard disk. You could well have hundreds of thousands of documents sat on your machine’s hard drive right now. All ready to be compromised. Something like the immediate image overwrites function that Xerox can provide, solves that issue. It can entirely delete and overwrite document data (automatically or manually), removing any and all information from the hard drive.

If the data that your network deals with isn’t encrypted or encrypted very well, it’s hugely vulnerable. Without having your point of print to the point of release watertight, it’s susceptible. That data needs to be encrypted and safe, end to end. Even one weakness (perhaps from a long forgotten about piece of legacy kit) and the whole thing is wide open. It’s a gaping chasm in your security. Do an audit. Then patch up the holes.

Sloppy disposal can turn into a real horror show

So you’ve decided to ditch your old legacy printer and install a new fully-supported multi-function device. Good choice. But that’s not the security problem fixed entirely. You’ve got the spectre of the old hard drive. Failure to dispose of or destroy your HDD correctly and you’re opening up a whole further printer security risk. Don’t fear too much, though. Effective hard disk destruction is available. ‘Degaussing’ – elimination of data using magnets – is one particularly useful method. Shredding is another.

Physical documents that have been printed are easily missed when disposing of an old printer. Without a process in place to check for old copies of potentially sensitive documents, some copies may remain in trays or inside the workings of the device. They’ll then leave the business when the logistics or delivery company come to collect it.

User ID information, passwords, PIN Codes… All this information will be on your MFDs hard drive too. Fail to dispose of it properly, and you run the very real risk of having your all device/network settings and user information discovered by anyone with an unhealthy interest.

Document security can be a nightmare

If sensitive data leaks out into the public domain in the form of a hard copy of a document, it could prove very costly and embarrassing to an organisation. But what can be done about it? Well, Xerox’s DataGlyph technology – with it’s tiny tracking numbers on every page that are invisible to the naked eye – can be employed to track the user down. That, in of itself, acts as a deterrent.

Some business and departments need to hold on to documents. Physical archiving isn’t strictly a thing of the past (yet). But having actual hard copies of everything? That’s a huge security risk. Locks can be picked; folders can be stolen. The answer? An online document management system. It’ll make your data easier to access and handle and – crucially – make it more secure. Oh, and it’ll save you a fair amount of space about the place too.


It’s Halloween, so this was a bit of a scare piece. But don’t let these spooky printer security risks frighten you too much. For every danger there is in printing, there’s a way to make sure you’re not at risk from it. And we can help you with all of them.

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