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The Unexpected Risk and Cost of Unsecure Government Printing

“Government organizations remain a primary target given the reams of personally identifiable information (PII) stored and processed by agencies, not to mention top-secret national security details. All the necessary components of critical infrastructure…fall under the auspices of regional governments. Even ‘small’ government can be huge, slow-moving bureaucracies with a mix of emerging technologies and a massive, highly vulnerable entrenched legacy infrastructure, all of which present a perfect storm for the modern hacker.” — Excerpt from the 2018 Government Cybersecurity Report

This excerpt perfectly sums up the cybersecurity challenges that government agencies of all sizes are up against on a daily basis. But it should come as no surprise that attackers are heavily targeting government agencies — it’s been this way for years now.

You’re no longer wondering whether or not your government networks are at risk. Rather, you’re trying to find the roots of your vulnerabilities and what an attack could cost you. However, you’re probably overlooking one key component of this conversation — print security.

Printers Are Low-Hanging Fruit for Cyberattackers

The global cost of data breaches is expected to eclipse $2 trillion this year, with a single incident costing more than $4 million. And while so many security leaders focus on prevention, the reality is that cyberattacks have become a fact of life. Your ability to minimize risk and cost has just as much to do with detection and resolution as prevention.

Unfortunately, studies show that in 60% of security incidents, it takes government agencies years to detect a problem. Mitigating the risks and costs of cyberattacks starts with fixing this problem. To do that, you need a clear understanding of where your network is most vulnerable.

Believe it or not 26% of significant data breaches involve printers to some degree. Connected print environments in government agencies are low-hanging fruit for attackers looking for an entry point to your network. Unlike traditional printing environments, security is about so much more than protecting input and output trays. Protecting your print environment now requires you to shore up 9 points of vulnerability:

  • Capture: Multi-function printers (MFPs) capture and route print jobs to many destinations across your network, creating the potential to expose your sensitive data.
  • Cloud-Based Access: Cloud connectivity is great for workforce productivity, but can expose data to unauthorized users if left unsecured.
  • Control Panel: Users can exploit print device settings and even disable devices from unsecured control panels.
  • Ports and Protocols: Unsecured USB ports, network ports, and protocols like FTP and Telnet can give attackers and unauthorized users access to your devices.
  • Network: Print jobs can be intercepted by attackers as they travel over your network to and from endpoints.
  • Management: Without adequate monitoring, security blind spots across your print infrastructure could go undetected and increase the potential for an attack.
  • Mobile Printing: Employees who print on the go may accidentally expose data or leave printouts unsecured.
  • BIOS and Firmware: Firmware that becomes compromised during startup or while running could open a device and the network to attack.
  • Storage Media: Modern printers store sensitive information on internal drives and hard disks, which can be accessed by attackers if left unprotected.

With the right investments, you can address all of these vulnerabilities without straining IT resources or exhausting your ever-growing cybersecurity budget.

Government Agencies Deserve the World’s Most Secure Printing

You won’t be able to minimize risk and costs by trying to secure aging, traditional printing and imaging devices. That will only lead you to deploy an entirely new stack of expensive security solutions that IT has to manage in addition to your existing security infrastructure.

Investing in the world’s most secure printing solutions will give you all the protective features necessary to eliminate this low-hanging fruit that attackers are taking advantage of. As an HP Silver Partner, we have the expertise necessary to keep government printing environments safe with the help of a modern portfolio of printers built with security in mind. If you want to learn more about HP Print Security Solutions and managed print services, check out our latest resources