Is Your Business Hardware Safe from Cyber Attacks?

Learn some simple steps you can take to protect your hardware

If you think that having the latest upgrades to your firewall and anti-virus software keeps you 100% safe from cyber attacks, then you’re probably very vulnerable to them right now. 

One major attack vector that often goes unnoticed is the office printer. Bloomberg Businessweek reports that this unlikely piece of hardware might just be the leading contender for the title of the Trojan horse of office equipment. In fact, 61% of organizations around the world reported at least one print-related data breach in 2016. This is because seemingly benign machines like computer printers now have the capacity to store data from the documents they print. Therefore, without any good security systems in place, any hacker can exploit this weakness and retrieve information easily.

Asia One warns that hackers targeting printers will not only gain access to your critical data, they can also gain control over your entire internal system. Today's sophisticated printers have the capability to communicate more effectively. Thanks to this, a breach created through your printer has the capacity to wreak havoc on your operations by shutting down your equipment or cause unnecessary wastage. 

Today's hackers can access your computer through a printer.

As more and more business owners realize the severity of the situation, it is crucial that you take security measures immediately, whether or not you have experienced a security breach in the past. Maryville University states that cyber security experts have three types of approaches when it comes to ensuring the security of your business. 

The offensive track is a proactive tactic in which you will attempt to hack your own system to identify weak spots. These involve ethical hacking practices to help identify and resolve system vulnerabilities. Meanwhile, the defensive approach involves reviewing the cyber security industry's best reactive tactics, and eliminating vulnerabilities to keep your system's defenses strong. This means ensuring that there are protocols in place for your business should the worst happen. Lastly, the general track is a mix of the previous two approaches, and should give your business a good fighting chance against hackers. 

Here’s a rundown of what can be done to secure your hardware right now:

  1. ‍Review, Identify, and Address Security Vulnerabilities – Have a cyber security expert take an offensive track by auditing all the working machines that are connected to your computer network. Once they pinpoint potential areas that can be exploited, you should implement higher security protection for those pieces of equipment and tighter security steps for your employees. 
  2. Replace and Upgrade Hardware – Equiinet previously covered different ways to protect data from disasters, similar to the course of action taken here. If the audit reveals that the hardware is outmoded and open to attack, then the quick solution would be to disconnect them from all computers connected to the network and replace them. It is also important to regularly update the software on different equipment regularly, as security patches can help ward off potential attacks. Businesses can do all these in phases, although this would leave them open to attack until all the machines are replaced.
  3. Corporate-Government Initiative – Although businesses can take the steps enumerated above, today's cyber security situation is a national issue that demands government assistance. Defense One strongly recommends that companies share info with the government about past attacks so they can disseminate it to other companies. This way, more business professionals and cyber security professionals can be empowered and vigilant for any possible signs of an attack. It is recommended that businesses reach out to their local government units and associations.
  4. ‍Development and Access to Secure Chips – Another cyber security initiative for both government and corporate resources is to build protected chips. This is because the technology used to make hardware chips didn't take into account the possibility it could be hacked. And while these could be replaced, there’s an entire line of devices including smartphones, laptops, and other devices that rely on them. Therefore, larger action is needed to supply individuals and companies with these safe chips. 
  5. ‍Further Research into Hardware Security – At the moment, there are no real defensive tracks to deal with an attack on hardware if it occurs. Both the government and high profile companies need to devote funding to develop stronger hardware protection.

Even if your machines have not yet been compromised, it doesn’t mean they won’t be in the future. Large companies might have more resources to recover from the damage caused by security breaches and cyber attacks, but these could spell the end of SMEs.

Interested in learning more about how Equiinet can help your business protect itself from hackers and cyber attacks? Ask us today about Strato-Link, an Equiinet Cloud-enabled VPN tunnel that connects to your computer through an Equiinet VoIP phone, providing firewall protection and encrypted network security. Give us a call or send us an email and find out more about Equiinet's security solutions!

Written especially for Equiinet by Rosie Withers

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