Printing devices are often overlooked when it comes to security. But the reality is, cybercriminals can hack your printer to get confidential information.
Your printer is probably the last piece of computer equipment you thought needed protection from cybercriminals. But the truth is very different.
Attackers actively try to locate the weakest links in security to gain access to and exploit valuable data. And among the weakest links is the printer. The thing with printers nowadays is that they have access to your devices, network, and the internet. This new open-access functionality makes them an ideal target for cyberattacks.
Unfortunately, many business owners overlook the importance of securing their printers and mainly focus on computers and mobile phones.
Most people still perceive printers as internal devices that serve basic functions. For this very reason, they are an easy target for cybercriminals.
Other than performing unauthorized print jobs, hackers can access confidential information as well as all connected computers and networks all through a printer.
You may also not be aware of the amount of valuable data your printer can store about you – tax files, bank details, financial records, employee information, personal information, etc. All a hacker needs to do is get into the operating system of your printer, and they can collect this sensitive data.
If you’ve just realized the importance of securing your printer, keep reading. This article shares eight tips to help you do just that.
THE 8 TIPS
TIP #1. MAKE SURE YOUR PRINTERS ARE CONFIGURED CORRECTLY
Many things can make a printer vulnerable to cyber threats and security breaches. So, you want to get the basics right to ensure the attacks don’t happen to you.
To start with, make sure to change the default password on your printer. Since anyone can access a printer remotely, a simple “123456” code won’t suffice.
Second, make sure you’re using your own router to print files remotely. Never connect to “Guest” networks.
TIP #2. INSPECT PRINT TRAYS REGULARLY
This one is a no-brainer, but everyone could use it as a reminder. Make sure to check your print trays and get rid of unused pages carrying sensitive information. There’s no easier way to prevent data leaks than this.
Alternatively, you can get a shredder for your office and shred the papers you don’t want anyone to see.
TIP #3. INSTALL MALWARE AND FIRMWARE UPDATES
Invest time and effort to ensure that your malware and firmware protection are up to date and can handle all types of hacks.
The good news is that many printers come with pre-built malware protection.
HP, for example, installs the HP “SureStart” software in their printers that monitors approaching targets when the printer is on. The software can shut down the device if an attack comes its way. This is a great way to prevent attacks from spreading further within the network.
TIP #4. LIMIT ACCESS TO THE NETWORK
Unprotected printers in a network are an extremely easy target for cybercriminals. Sure, businesses and offices require printers to access networks to perform remote prints. But if you can do the job by disabling the network access, make sure you do that.
If not, tweak the printer and network settings to only allow the device to take print jobs from the network you trust. This will help avoid outside interference and security breaches.
TIP #5. UPDATE YOUR PRINTERS
Updating a printer is equally as important as updating your phone to the latest software. Much in the way iOS developers look for bugs and fix them in a new update, printer manufacturers work toward known device vulnerabilities and update the software for added protection.
Look for printer updates so you can easily overcome known threats to the printer. Ideally, update your printers every quarter to get the most out of the security benefits.
TIP #6. INSTALL A FIREWALL
If you run an office, chances are you already have a firewall. But in case you missed this requirement, now’s the time to do it.
Using a reliable firewall helps keep printers safe from cybercriminals.
Your computers most likely come with pre-built firewalls, and all you need to do is keep them enabled. But there are also specialized firewalls for homes and offices that offer advanced security and make it virtually impossible for anyone to break in.
TIP #7. ENCRYPT YOUR STORAGE
Printers with shared networks can perform distance printing. And when a print job is in transit and travels from a computer to a printer, hackers can intercept the data and exploit it.
To keep this from happening, encrypt your print jobs. Also, make sure the sensitive data on your printer's hard or internal drive is encrypted as well.
Keep in mind that when you print a document, that file is often stored as an image within the printer and makes it an easy target for hackers. It’s why you should use an encryption tool to protect your data. Luckily, many modern printers have this tool pre-built.
You can use the tool to set up a secure password that allows printer storage encryption, remove user IDs and ex-employee access, delete documents from the print queue once they’re printed, and much more.
TIP #8. EDUCATE YOUR EMPLOYEES
If you work in an office, chances are you aren’t the only person using the printer. Everyone that has access to it needs to be aware of the responsibilities that come with its usage. Make sure to talk to your employees about ways to ensure both the physical and virtual safety of the printers.
Your staff should also be careful when using their mobile devices to print, as smartphones are easier to hack. Explain to them what phishing scams are and how they can avoid being the victim.
Finally, make sure it’s clear to them how they can use confidential information in your company.
IT’S TIME TO ENSURE PRINTER SECURITY
Printers are the most overlooked devices when it comes to security. Given how most business owners consider them as merely internal devices whose sole function is to print documents, it’s no wonder they are a weak spot security-wise.
Whether you use printers in your office or at home, take a moment to see how you can enhance its security before your next printing job.
As cybercriminals are a growing concern, each of us is responsible for protecting our data. Luckily, the tips from this article will help you bring your printer’s security to another level.
If you need more insight into protecting the security of your printers, get in touch with us today. We can set up a 10-15-minute chat to discuss how you can implement these changes and keep cybercriminals away.
Hardly any phone call system in a business beats VoIP when it comes to efficiency and flexibility. However, it’s not immune to cyberattacks. Discover how you can secure your VoIP ASAP.
What kind of communication system are you using for your business?
I asked because many modern-day businesses have now switched to the Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP). This technology allows employees to perform voice calls using only their internet connection.
It’s often a wise choice considering that using VoIP comes with several benefits to a business.
Among its benefits include lower operating costs, greater convenience than traditional services, increased accessibility, higher scalability, and the ability to multitask. VoIP also comes with advanced features for teams of all sizes, is completely portable, and offers superior voice quality.
However, VoIP systems also have limitations, with cyberattacks being their number one downside.
The good news is that it’s possible to protect a business’s VoIP system from hackers. And if you already implemented this in your business, it’s not too late to secure it.
Read on to discover the most common threats to your network and tips on preventing them.
THE NEED FOR VOIP PROTECTION
All VoIP systems require a stable internet connection to function properly. Unfortunately, their reliability on the internet makes them vulnerable to various security issues.
Some of the most frequent ones include:
SECURITY ISSUE #1. DENIAL OF SERVICE
Denial of Service (DoS) is a common threat to VoIP systems comprising attacks designed to shut down a machine or network and make it inaccessible for use.
When this happens, legitimate users of VoIP technology may not be able to access their information systems and devices. And call centres can be affected by lower call quality, uptime, and latency.
SECURITY ISSUE #2. WAR DIALLING
War dialling is an attack that controls the company’s private branch exchange (PBX) and scans for other phone networks. This means hackers can dial numbers and connect to modems and other extensions.
SECURITY ISSUE #3. TOLL FRAUD
Toll fraud is a threat that consists of making calls to outside lines from a company’s existing system.
For example, hackers will dial costly international numbers intending to rack up toll charges to your business.
SECURITY ISSUE #4. PHISHING
This is a common threat wherein attackers send fraudulent messages designed to trick victims into revealing sensitive information. Often, the unsuspecting victims would divulge information about passwords, internal IP networks, and similar data.
SECURITY ISSUE #5. MALWARE
It’s a threat where attackers install malicious software via email or phone. A file or code gets delivered over a network and has the goal of infecting, stealing, or exploring the information contained within a system.
After infecting the system with malware, VoIP hackers can enter your network and access critical business information.
SECURITY ISSUE #6. CALL INTERCEPTION
The call interception attacker uses unsecured networks to intercept the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) traffic that serves to initiate, maintain, and terminate real-time voice and video sessions.
6 TIPS FOR BOOSTING VOIP SECURITY
Given the variety of threats imposed by attackers on VoIP systems, it’s necessary to optimize your VoIP security ASAP. Here are 6 valuable tips to get you started.
TIP #1. SET UP A FIREWALL
Secure firewalls are necessary for all VoIP systems. It’s important to make your VoIP software and hardware firewalls scan information that goes in and out of the system and ensure it’s secure.
If spam or a threat comes your way, the firewall will identify and gain control over it, shielding your system shielded from the attack.
Also, a good firewall will allow the data packets you send to travel unhindered.
TIP #2. USE STRONG PASSWORDs
Your VoIP system is no different from any other software or platform you use for handling sensitive information. For this reason, it needs to be protected with strong and regularly updated passwords.
Aim for combinations of at least 12 characters, including numbers, upper- and lower-case letters, and special symbols. And for ultimate protection, go for passwords consisting of a random character series.
It’s crucial to set a password as soon as you configure your VoIP system. Otherwise, you’re likely to forget about it later.
Also, remember that some VoIP phones come with pre-set passwords, often available publicly. That’s why you should change yours as soon as you get a chance.
TIP #3. RESTRICT CALLING
Many VoIP attacks happen due to toll fraud. So, if your business runs locally, there’s no need to have the international call option enabled. This allows you to be on the safe side and avoid paying expensive bills you weren’t even responsible for making.
You can let your VoIP service block 1-900 numbers to avoid toll fraud.
TIP #4. ENCOURAGE YOUR TEAM TO REPORT SUSPICIOUS BEHAVIOUR
Many of the VoIP attacks arrive due to irresponsible behaviour. To prevent this from happening, educate your team on how they can best do their job without affecting the system’s security.
For starters, they should know how to spot unusual network activity, handle passwords, and report suspicious behaviour. They should also report ghost calls and missing voicemails whenever received. Staff also shouldn’t store voicemail for too long.
The reality is that sometimes, cybersecurity training during onboarding often isn’t enough. That’s why you should do periodical training to keep your VoIP safe at all times.
TIP #5. DEACTIVATE WEB INTERFACE USE
Ideally, you should deactivate the web interface used for your VoIP system. Why?
Using phones on a desktop computer opens an area of weakness to attackers. It's enough for a single phone user falling prey to leave the whole system exposed to an external party. All your data can be stolen in text format as a result.
So, unless it’s absolutely necessary for you to use the web interface, be sure to secure it very strictly.
TIP #6. USE A VPN FOR REMOTE WORKERS
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are great software that encrypts traffic regardless of your employee’s location.
You can set up such a network for your remote staff to prevent data leaks and breaches.
The good news is that using this service won’t degrade the call quality.
(RE)GAINING CONTROL OVER YOUR VOIP SECURITY
VoIP systems are a fantastic alternative to landlines. After all, they offer many more features and flexibility at a fraction of the cost. However, their reliability on the internet also makes them susceptible to cyberattacks.
If you have just set up a VoIP system for your company or are thinking of starting one, securing it should be your number one priority. Don’t risk falling prey to toll fraud, malware, phishing, and other attacks. Take some time to secure your business by following the tips from this article.
If you need more help to implement these changes or would like to further discuss securing your business’s VoIP system, feel free to contact us and we would be more than happy to setup a call to see how we can help.
Increasing productivity in your business doesn’t just entail optimizing your equipment and sharpening your attention. Decluttering your computer desktop is also essential.
A clutter-free office is paramount to improving your productivity. Piles of stationery on your desk can cause you to waste a lot of time searching for a critical document. As a result, you’re less likely to meet deadlines.
Clutter can affect you in various indirect ways, too.
It can dramatically reduce your cognitive abilities, impairing your decision-making and relationships with your team members. In addition, it can have an adverse effect on your anxiety, focus, sleep, and eating choices. All of these can reduce your workplace performance.
However, this clutter problem doesn’t just affect your desk or office.
Your computer desktop can also be cluttered. Disorganized folders and a lackluster display impact your productivity as much as physical clutter. To avoid this scenario, you need to declutter your computer as well.
This article will share seven tips on decluttering your computer desktop.
THE 7 TIPS
TIP #1 - DEVELOP A FOLDER SYSTEM WITH FILE NAMING CONVENTIONS
The most important thing you should do to prevent clutter on your computer is set up an intuitive folder system. You can use several categories, such as file type or name, depending on what suits your research or work best.
Regardless of your approach, be sure to choose well-established naming conventions that let you quickly navigate through your documents. The system should also be easy to use for many years to come, so consider your plans when creating it.
You can place these folders in your file share tools (e.g., Google Drive and Dropbox), hard drive, or desktop if you back them up regularly.
With a fully functional structure, you can bypass your desktop by simply downloading new documents to designated folders. Afterward, you can rapidly locate them with the search command on your computer. Type in the name of your folder, and you’ll reach the desired file within seconds.
TIP #2 - MAKE YOUR DESKTOP ATTRACTIVE TO YOU
Besides making your computer desktop fully functional, you should also enhance its appeal. So, select a meaningful or beautiful background. It needs to be enjoyable to look at, motivating you to keep your computer tidy.
To take the aesthetics to the next level, set gridded or lined images as the background to organize files that end up there more easily.
Another great idea is to use a motivational background. Images with powerful messages encourage you to work harder and remain focused. This type of coaching also enables you to organize your desktop and stay on top of clutter.
TIP #3 - CONSIDER SECTIONED DESKTOP WALLPAPER
Sectioned desktop wallpapers are a great way to enhance your desktop organization further. For instance, you can include a section for your vacation or pets.
There are millions of wallpapers online that can help you declutter your desktop. They complement folder naming conventions to improve your workflow.
TIP #4 - CONSOLIDATE YOUR MOST USED APPS/SOFTWARE
Having quick access to your most used programs or software is a must. It allows you to start working immediately without wasting time searching for apps.
To consolidate efficiently, you should first determine which software matters most to you. Your portfolio may comprise two or three apps you use daily or an entire suite of programs that provide the necessary functionality.
Once you’ve assembled your list, you may be able to merge multiple programs with a comprehensive solution. It puts them in one place to streamline your productivity.
The taskbar is an effective alternative, as program icons are often responsible for the bulk of your clutter. Keeping the essential icons in the taskbar makes them quickly accessible since you won’t need to browse.
TIP #5 - DELETE OR RELOCATE UNUSED FILES
After categorizing vital apps, you also need to address unused programs. Here’s a tip: if you can’t recall when you last used certain software, uninstall it. Do the same if you don’t think you’ll need a particular application for an upcoming project.
Since this may be a hard decision, you may want to create a folder for these rarely used apps and files instead. Tuck them away until you figure out if you wish to proceed with the deletion.
For this wait-and-see approach, you can make use of several folders, such as “miscellaneous” or “to be archived.” In doing so, you won’t accidentally uninstall or remove a crucial program.
Now, if you take this approach, make sure to check the folders regularly. Determine which files and apps are no longer needed in your business and delete them to avoid clutter.
To avoid falling behind with your cleaning, set a reminder on your calendar. It can be a monthly or weekly event, depending on your workload.
TIP #6 - CATEGORIZE NEW CONTENT
Dumping new files and programs onto your desktop may be tempting if you’re in a hurry. However, this method is ill-advised because it inhibits your organization.
Try to allocate a few minutes to organize all new apps and files appropriately, according to your naming conventions. A quick way to do so is to use automatic file sorting by date or alphabetically. It doesn’t take long, yet it can significantly reduce clutter on your computer.
TIP #7 - EMPLOY FENCES
Digital fences group files in specific regions of your desktop to make them more visually accessible. This method works much better than burying all your files in one or two folders. Plus, many people consider it more user-friendly than gridded backgrounds.
For example, the Stacks feature automatically categorizes content by type or any other specific feature. It’s available for free on Macs with Mojave.
Likewise, PCs have a similar feature called Fences. It enables you to designate and move fences around the desktop for improved manoeuvrability. The only downside to this is that it’s not free.
DON’T LET CLUTTER GET OUT OF HAND
Decluttering your computer desktop is one of the best ways to advance your productivity.
Once you’ve organized it appropriately, you’ll be able to find the necessary files and programs effortlessly. You’ll then feel rejuvenated, and your mood may improve dramatically, allowing you to overcome mental obstacles during your workday.
It might take some time to optimize your desktop, but it’ll be well worth it.
You can also assign this job to your IT provider. However, they may not understand your needs and that of your business correctly, and their services might be insufficient.
In that case, let’s have a 10-15-minute chat and see if we can resolve your problem. Give us a call and we’ll do all we can to help you increase office productivity in your business.
Which Type of Hackers is Endangering Your Business Data? (And How to Protect Your Sensitive Info from Them)
Your data is pivotal to running a successful company. If you don’t have proper security measures in place, hackers can easily steal your data and take you out of business.
Cybercriminals might be the biggest threat facing your company. Besides gaining access to your money and accounts, they can also take over critical software, preventing you from collaborating with clients.
Any organization can fall victim to hacking. However, small and medium businesses are particularly at risk.
Too often, their owners don’t always address cybersecurity when launching their company. Sometimes, they even just hire the first IT service provider they see. They also don’t know how to shield themselves from online attackers, making them low-risk targets.
As a result, these organizations often go under due to the loss of sensitive data. It isn’t a risk you can take. To help mitigate it, this article will introduce you to the various types of hackers and explain how to protect your business from them.
THE 5 TYPES OF HACKERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Here’s a quick list of potential hackers, depending on what they’re after:
#1. HACKERS WHO ARE AFTER PERSONAL INFORMATION
Many hackers are dying to get their hands on the personal information of your clients and employees. It includes birth dates, financial data, and social security numbers.
Social security numbers might be the most valuable asset they want to get ahold of since cybercriminals can use them for various purposes. For instance, they can perform tax fraud, open credit accounts, and make other significant identity breaches.
In addition, financial data can be utilized for fraudulent activities and purchases, especially if it lacks robust digital security systems.
#2. HACKERS WHO WANT TO GET INTO THE DIGITAL INFRASTRUCTURE
Storage and data servers are expensive - and hackers know that.
In order for them to cut costs, hackers may aim to store their applications and data on your infrastructure instead. The better your infrastructure, the more likely cybercriminals are to target it. This can strain your network to the limits and have devastating effects on your business.
Unsurprisingly, tech companies are some of the most common victims of this type of hacking.
The common indicators that a hacker has tapped into your digital infrastructure include:
#3. HACKERS WHO ARE AFTER CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION
Few business aspects are as important as your intellectual property (IP). Your products and services enable you to stand out from the competition and strike a chord with the target audience.
A huge problem arises if hackers steal the design of your upcoming product before you launch it or submit your patent. A competitor may obtain the information, allowing them to hit the market first and undercut your sales.
#4. HACKERS WHO WANT TO GET ACCOUNT DATA
Sure, you and your IT service provider might have done enough so that hackers might not be able to obtain financial data. But are your employees’ accounts secure?
If hackers compromise them, they may let them run scams and gain information to disrupt your operations.
For example, losing CEO login credentials can be devastating. Besides granting hackers access to sensitive information, it also helps them impersonate the CEO. In return, they can solicit information from employees or clients and halt your operations.
This data breach can lead to widespread confusion, tarnishing your reputation.
#5. HACKERS WHO AIM TO HAVE NETWORK CONTROL
In some cases, hackers aren’t after data. Instead, they want to gain control of the entire network. And to make it happen, they launch ransomware attacks.
These activities enable them to lock you out of the system and make data inaccessible until you pay a ransom. They’re typically initiated through spam, phishing emails, and online ads.
The average ransom amount stands at approximately $30,000, but the loss caused by business disruption is much more significant.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR BUSINESS
Now that you know how hackers can compromise your company, let’s check out 5 effective ways to protect yourself:
WAY #1. INVESTING IN SECURITY RESOURCES
A key factor ignored by many owners is the amount of money and time devoted to cybersecurity. Avoid this mistake by allocating enough resources to set up solid defensive measures. Make sure to invest in a reliable IT service provider to help you out.
This way, your online accounts, hardware, and network should be more secure.
WAY #2. TRAINING YOUR TEAM
Most security systems have weaknesses. And their employees are usually the biggest ones.
For this reason, HR managers and CEOs should ensure their staff follows optimal security measures, both in-office and at home. They must all remember that any phone or laptop they use for work can be a weak point and entryway for hackers.
To introduce your employees to the best security practices, consider arranging security education and training for a month once a year. You can talk about different aspects of your company and the steps necessary to deter cybercriminals, for example.
Sound education can go a long way in promoting a healthy security culture.
WAY #3. ADDING AUTHENTICATION
There are many valuable tools you can use to fend off hackers. One of them is two-factor authentication (2FA) – a simple yet effective weapon against scammers.
This measure requires each user to verify their identity to access your system. You could use it on all business-related accounts to reduce the chances of cybercrime.
Furthermore, encourage your team members to activate MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication) on personal accounts. This way, they’ll be more likely to follow appropriate security practices, reducing the risk of compromised devices and data breaches.
WAY #4. LEVERAGING SOFTWARE
Computer viruses are another go-to tool for hackers. And a great way to deal with them is to incorporate antivirus software.
Make sure your built-in antivirus software is up to date. Also, you can consider a corporate package from trusted companies like MalwareBytes.
Each machine that can access work resources should rely on this software. Plus, the user should conduct weekly antivirus scans to lessen the chances of computers getting infected by a virus.
WAY #5. PERFORMING SECURITY CHECKS
Checking your system is vital for optimal cybersecurity. Solid antivirus software is practical, but you shouldn’t disregard manual scans. It’s crucial that your IT service provider does this periodically.
More specifically, check who’s accessed your network and make sure each point of access is authorized. Any suspicious activity must be reviewed and rooted out. Otherwise, these red flags can prove fatal for the company.
STAY ON THE SAFE SIDE
Battling hackers may not be the most exciting part of running a business. However, neglecting cybersecurity turns your company into a sitting duck for scammers. You may lose money, data, and your reputation might suffer irreparable damage.
While there isn’t a bulletproof solution, adopting the outlined tactics should be a strong starting point.
Contact us today if you want to discuss your cybersecurity in greater detail and pinpoint potential risks.