While many individuals fret over computer hacking, they often overlook the vulnerability of their wireless printers. These devices are commonly used sporadically, such as when printing tax forms or mailing labels, making them easily forgotten. However, hackers have not forgotten about them. Unsecured printers are a classic entry point for cybercriminals to breach a home network.
To emphasize this point, a study by Cybernews deliberately targeted unsecured printers, successfully compromising nearly 28,000 devices worldwide with a 56% success rate. Ironically, once access was obtained, the hackers made the printers print a guide on printer security.
Curious about the potential exposure of your network through your printer? Below, we provide essential security tips to help you fortify your network, safeguarding the data on all your devices.
1. Change the Default Login Credentials
When purchasing a new printer, it often comes with default login credentials provided by the manufacturer for initial setup. It is crucial to change this default information immediately. Hackers possess a master list of these defaults and use automated scripts to try each until they find a successful login systematically. To enhance security, change the default credentials and create a strong password.
2. Keep Printer Firmware Updated
Regularly updating the firmware of your printer is essential for maintaining its security. Like computers, software, and apps, the hardware also requires updates. These updates often include crucial security patches that address vulnerabilities.
Firmware updates may not be as conspicuous as software updates. While software and operating system updates typically generate popup notifications, firmware and printer driver updates are less visible. Here are some places to check for firmware updates:
- The PC manufacturer provides the utility app on a connected device.
- The information panel on the printer itself.
- The printer manufacturer’s dedicated app is installed on a PC.
3. Utilize a Network Firewall
Implementing a network firewall is vital for actively monitoring network traffic. Firewalls serve as a protective barrier, blocking suspicious activities and preventing unauthorized access by hackers. Configure the firewall to monitor incoming and outgoing printer traffic, bolstering your network’s security.
4. Place Your Printer on a Guest Network
Modern home routers often offer the option to set up a guest network separate from your leading network using the same router. This segregation makes it more challenging for hackers to navigate from one network to another. You enhance overall security by keeping a less secure device like a printer on a separate network from your computers and phones. Rest assured, you can still print to your printer from devices on different networks as long as the proper configurations are in place. If you require assistance with the setup, feel free to contact us.
5. Disable Unused Ports or Services
Printers and other IoT devices often come with multiple connection options. However, you may not require all the ports or services your printer provides. These unused ports and services pose potential risks, as they can be entry points for hackers. Disabling any ports and sharing unnecessary features is recommended, minimizing the risk of a breach and fortifying the printer’s security.
6. Unplug When Not in Use
Unlike work printers that are frequently in use, home printers are often utilized sporadically, sometimes only a few times a month or year. If you are not regularly using your printer, consider unplugging it when it’s not in use. By disconnecting the device entirely, you eliminate any potential access points for hackers. When the printer is powered off and unplugged, no access is available, ensuring maximum security.
7. Educate Your Family on Cybersecurity Best Practices
Your printer is just one device among several connected devices on your home network. The average number of connected devices per U.S. household will reach 22 in 2022. Your family must understand and adopts good cybersecurity habits. This enhances the security of everyone’s data and helps prevent costly breaches, such as identity theft or the compromise of devices like baby monitors.
Here are some essential best practices to promote good cyber hygiene:
- Always use strong passwords (at least 10-12 characters, with a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols).
- Keep software and firmware on devices updated regularly.
- Enable multi-factor authentication wherever possible.
- Activate device firewalls and utilize other protective measures.
- Install reliable antivirus software on all devices.
- Never login to any account from a link received via email or text.
- Learn to identify phishing attempts and seek a second opinion before clicking on suspicious links.
- Consider getting a professional security checkup for your devices at least once every year or two.
Seek Professional Assistance in Safeguarding Your Family’s Data
IT professionals don’t solely assist businesses; they also help families ensure their data’s safety and maintain their devices’ smooth operation. Contact Qamba today to schedule a home security checkup and receive expert guidance on protecting your family’s data.