Are Your Digital Presses and Print Servers a Security Risk for Cybercrime?
Cybercrime poses a tremendous risk to businesses throughout the world, and that threat is growing. Netscout Systems’ 2019 Threat Intelligence Report found a 39% increase in cyberattack frequency from first-half 2018 to first-half 2019. You might think that cybercrime does not impact smaller businesses, but cyberattacks affect everyone. According to a report by Kelser Corporation, 65% of cyberattacks target small to medium businesses.
Cybercrime might seem like an unusual subject for someone from EFI to discuss, but helping our customers with security is a topic at the forefront of our minds. Our Fiery digital front ends can be considered Internet of Things (IoT) devices and are found in all types of commercial establishments engaged in printing as well as in in-plants and enterprises throughout every industry. According to Netscout Systems, all IoT devices are targets, even those behind firewalls. And, Quocirca’s Global Print Security Report found print-related data breaches in 60% of U.S., U.K., French, and German businesses in 2018, averaging more than $400,000 per incident.
Now, the situation isn't hopeless. Patrick Kelley, chief technology officer, Critical Path Security, notes, "It would be a huge win for printer companies to lean in and be advocates for companies to recognize the security risks printers present and to incorporate the appropriate installation, setup, and training to minimize them.” Hardware and software vendors, IT staff, corporate management, and users can all work together to mitigate cybercrime risk, while still being able to do their jobs. The solutions may be somewhat inconvenient, and the effort will never end. Still, there are ways to protect your businesses if we work together.
The first step in Fiery print server security is your administrator password. Far too often, administrators don't change their default password, and that is terrifying for three reasons:
- Access: Fiery servers are attached to your network, meaning that someone who gets into them, can potentially expose everything on the network to an attack launched from the Fiery server.
- Secrecy: The industry commonly knows the Fiery default password.
- Timing: In their 2019 Threat Intelligence Reports, Netscout Systems, Inc. reported that “Internet of Things (IoT) devices are under attack five minutes after they are powered up and are targeted by specific exploits within 24 hours.” This observation means that your print server could be under attack before you’ve even had a chance to reset your admin password.
In response to the growing security issues with IoT devices, California passed law SB-327, effective Jan. 1, 2020. One of the mandates in that law is that manufacturers of connected devices must either ship their products with unique, preprogrammed passwords or with a security feature requiring users to generate a new means of authentication before granting access to the device for the first time.
EFI now ships every Fiery server with unique administrator, operator, and, if applicable, Windows OS login passwords, to reduce vulnerability from the moment they power up. We understand that this is an inconvenience for system installers, much like having to remove your shoes at airport security. It is, however, a minimal investment to eliminate a gaping security hole. Oh, and regularly changing your passwords to strong values and securely storing them are still best practices.
Kelley states, “A significant problem with IoT devices, like printers, is that customers are not educated on security risks. Companies and consumers need to understand the risks they are accepting with IoT devices and to ensure that their third-party vendors are advocates for what's best for them. Choose your vendors carefully, making sure that they are trustworthy and that you are the priority.”
So, what other areas of security should you review in your business? First, many data breaches occur from end-user mistakes. Common problems include sending secure files to non-secure printers or leaving sensitive printed documents in output trays for someone else to take. There is not much that we, as a vendor, can assist with this, but communicating print-related security policies and enforcing them can reduce these types of risks.
There are, however, actions you can take to secure your printing environment beyond just monitoring your end-users.
- Keep your software up-to-date. EFI ships Fiery servers with the latest network security standards and authentication mechanisms, and they run on contemporary operating systems with up-to-date security patches. However, cyber-threats are always evolving. Ensure that BIOS, firmware, and software updates are current.
- Encrypt your data. Fiery servers support data encryption using the 256-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard). Be sure to use it for sensitive information.
- Configure your printers. Security settings can be complex to understand and, all too often, are not correctly set during installation. Fiery servers include clearly-designed security interfaces with pre-defined settings recommendations. Configuring the security settings only takes a minute or two. Still, you need to ensure that your installers and IT staff are doing it appropriately.
- Beware of USBs. Not all threats arrive over the network. USBs can contain viruses that are transmitted to print servers when they are connected. Sometimes a policy of not accepting memory sticks is insufficient. The latest Fiery print servers can be configured not to accept them.
- Keep the data clean and secure. As a vendor, we provide SMBv1 disabling and SMB signing for secure PnP and SMB printing. We also have incorporated internal security to prevent server modification through malicious PostScript files.
The war against cybercrime may be never-ending, but you are not alone in the fight. EFI and our digital press partners will continue to advance our internal security features and to provide tools and services to help you set and maintain the appropriate printing security levels for your operation.
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