Commentary
6/22/2010
10:40 AM
Keith Ferrell
Keith Ferrell
Commentary

Printers, Copiers And Other Unexpected Vulnerabilities

When's the last time you updated and patched your printer's firmware -- if you ever have. Yet networked printers, copiers and other common workplace devices, including UPS backups and security cameras, can contain vulnerabilities that can put your business at risk.



When's the last time you updated and patched your printer's firmware -- if you ever have. Yet networked printers, copiers and other common workplace devices, including UPS backups and security cameras, can contain vulnerabilities that can put your business at risk.When's the last time you updated and patched your printer's firmware -- if you ever have. Yet networked printers, copiers and other common workplace devices, including UPS backups and security cameras, can contain vulnerabilities that can put your business at risk.

It's all too easy to overlook business support devices -- printers, fax machines, copiers and so on -- when assessing your business's vulnerability profile.

But in the course of a recent piece on vulnerabilities hiding in plain sight that I did for Dark Reading, I had it pointed out to me again and again just how dangerous an oversight that can be.

The chief culprits:

  • Any networked device that doesn't have thorough and up-to-date security procedures and tools in place.
  • Devices that contain hard disks and other storage capability, in which persistent copies of sensitive information can reside, ready to be viewed or stolen
  • Default passwords left in-place on business equipment; some devices have "hidden" default passwords for service technicians
  • Unexpected vulnerability sources such as TCP/IP connected security cameras or networked UPS backup power supplies

Add to those the old familiar workplace vulnerabilities such as personnel badges and swipe cards left on desks, unsecured paper notebooks containing passwords, log-ins and access codes as well as generally unsafe computing practices by ostensibly "tech-sophisticated" workers and you have a pretty good array vulnerabilities that you may have never considered before.

That oversight is itself a vulnerability -- one that it's time to eliminate.

Even a brief walk-through of your workplace with both your eyes and your mind open can reveal vulnerabilities that need to be fixed. (Here's another one to look for: Ask your employees to turn over their keyboards. Odds are you'll find at least one password taped to the bottom of a supposedly secure worker's keyboard.)

When assessing your company's vulnerabilities, be sure to address -- and repair -- all of them.

Don't Miss: Printer Security? Yep: Printer Security!

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