Extensive digital transformation is taking place across industries. To keep up with changing workplace habits of a new next-generation workforce, companies are adopting new software and hardware as well as putting more information on the cloud. Meanwhile, the sophistication and volume of cyberattacks and data breaches is growing exponentially. So, securing network and endpoints has become an indispensable part of managing business risks.

But a network is only as secure as its weakest link. New strategies are needed to secure network-connected devices that can be a source of vulnerability. However, when formulating security strategies, many companies overlook the humble printer, typically forgetting that it has access to the network and churns out highly confidential documents. IT departments usually apply rigorous security standards to PCs and other connected mobile devices, but overlook the printer in the mistaken belief that these devices cannot be hacked — leaving it defenceless.

Last year, a 17-year-old calling himself “stackoverflowin” proved those IT departments wrong. He hacked 150,000 insecure printers and instructed them to print a document hailing his feat and asking the printer network operators to “please close this port”. The hacker partly accomplished his mission. Victims of the hack flooded social media and online forums with cries for help.

Still, there is a need for greater awareness, particularly here in Asia. Mention the term Internet of Things and most people think about smart watches, refrigerators and even washing machines. Few realise that printers have been part of this IoT for far longer; yet, research shows that less than 2% of printers are secure, and a recent study found that up to 60,000 printer models could be vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

Fortunately, more companies are beginning to recognise the threat that an unsecure print environment can pose. According to research agency IDC, more than 30% of organisations have no security policies in place for managing access to and controlling usage rights for networked printers. However, more than half of the organisations surveyed also indicated a high level of concern regarding the unauthorised use of copiers or multi-function printers.

HP believes that security is everyone’s responsibility. It is not a concern that should be left solely to the user of a device. HP therefore strives to help businesses understand the security risks that they face, deploy the right security measures, meet regulatory requirements and avert losses that might result from cyber-attacks. The company is building more protections into their devices, including business printers.

HP’s Enterprise Printers have multiple layers of security, including real-time threat detection, automated monitoring, and software validation to stop threats right from the start. The printers are hardened and self-healing, with embedded features and add-on solutions to protect from threats throughout their lifecycle. This helps organisations defend their printers as well as their networks. HP business printers also sport strong encryption to protect data that is both in transit and at rest, and the company offers managed services to help ensure systems are deployed securely. Thanks to this comprehensive suite of solutions, HP helps its customers be more resilient to the increasingly sophisticated world of cyber-crime.

Within an organisation, the printer is probably one of the most shared devices. It should not be the weakest link.