Three Ways IT Leaders Can Promote Cyber Hygiene Through Device Security

Although more employees are returning to the office, hybrid work remains a permanent part of the modern workforce. With a distributed workforce, IT managers need to ensure that workflow is secure without the confines of a corporate office. Although this may sound surprising to some, device security is an easy way to achieve the desired level of protection.

Device security means that communal office technology, such as printers, is current and equipped with cybersecurity features that protect confidential information and prevent unwanted changes to documents by unauthorized personnel. Organization leaders tend to forget that printers are devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT), just like computers, so they should be monitored and inspected with the same standards.

Below, we will explore three ways for IT leaders to prioritize printer security and promote cyber hygiene for their companies:

Having an awareness of company cybersecurity policies and current security processes

Device security can be interpreted in multiple ways, so it’s vital for IT leaders to know what that means for their own organization when choosing a new device or installing upgrades. For example, when meeting with solution providers, IT leaders need to be clear about what exactly their company is looking for (firmware upgrade, new device, or both?) and where they currently are in implementing this process. 

Having this awareness is essential for choosing the service or product that best meets their needs. If an organization is fuzzy on its policies and needs regarding printer security, dealers will have to take extra steps to help uncover any gaps they may have in their existing security processes before recommending an appropriate solution.

Maintaining company-wide periodic firmware and device upgrades

Firmware updates, updating printer software without replacing the entire machine, is a great way to upgrade existing printers that still have a lot of life left. IT managers must update firmware periodically because having the latest software in place makes it harder for malware to enter the IT Infrastructure. 

However, some printers are simply too old to compete with new models and are better off being replaced in favor of valuable functions such as flexibility, which is having the capability within the device to configure the latter according to each organization’s preferences. For example, some IT professionals view AirPrint as a security risk and want it turned off, but older machines may not have the ability to disable this function.

The ability to turn things on and off to fit into many different security schemes is critical. It is also important to have devices with digitally signed firmware — if someone tampers with the firmware, the signature will be broken, and the machine will reject it.

Familiarizing employees with printer security features

There are three main components every printer needs to have to pass the device security test: setting passwords, limiting access, and robust document security features. 

Although printers usually come with a pre-set password, IT managers should change the password to prevent hackers from quickly guessing the default. They should also limit printer access to select authorized personnel. Document security features such as including digital signatures also protect content because if a signed document has been changed, the signature will be broken, rendering the document invalid.

Once IT managers familiarize employees with these features, their organizations will have leveled up in cyber hygiene. As the benefits of printer security become more widespread, this practice will become mandatory for a secure workplace without borders.

Bob Burnett is Director of B2B Solutions Deployment and Planning at Brother International Corporation