Before hybrid and remote work became the norm, IT managers spent vast amounts of effort securing the four walls of their organizations. Today, as employees return to the office, hybrid work will remain a part of an organization’s work model. Securing the workflow process —  especially in different settings, with employees using devices such as personal routers that aren’t password protected or who don’t have VPNs — presents new security challenges.  

IT managers will now have two goals in mind. The first is to maintain the same level of business continuity, and the second is to ensure that workflow is secure outside the corporate environment. Organizations should focus on device security, which is ensuring that communal office technology, such as printers, is up to date and equipped with cyber-hardening features that help protect confidential information and prevent unwanted changes to documents by unauthorized personnel.  

Printers are overlooked in organizational security because people don’t often associate printing and scanning with cybersecurity. Organization leaders tend to forget that printers are devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT), so they should be monitored and inspected just as often as other technology, such as computers.  

Here is where security dealers can offer a highly customized solution that works with their end customer’s devices and meets the organization’s needs. Ahead, we’ll take a look at three ways that dealers can help customers choose secure printers that both meet their needs and maintain cyber hygiene, all the while extending their relationship as a trusted advisor.  

#1 Consulting with customers about their security needs and processes

The words network and device security can be interpreted in multiple ways, so it’s vital that dealers are aligned in thought with their customers on what that means. At their first meeting, dealers need to have an in-depth conversation with customers about their specific security needs and where they currently are in implementing this process.  

For example, some organizations don’t prioritize printer security at all, while others may upgrade firmware once in a while but not the machines themselves. Suppose a customer doesn’t already have a clear policy in place regarding printer security. In that case, the dealer’s role is to act as a differentiator and help uncover any gaps they may have in their existing security processes, then recommend printing solutions that improve what they are currently doing and help them achieve any future security goals. 

#2 Providing periodic firmware and device upgrades

Firmware updates, meaning updating software within a printer without replacing the entire machine, have only begun to take practice recently. Periodic firmware updates are essential to keeping up with current security because having the latest software in place makes it harder for malware to enter the system.  

However, a threshold exists where hardware is too old and cannot beat new technology capabilities, such as flexibility, which is having the capability within the device to configure the latter according to each organization’s preferences. 

Take AirPrint, for example. Some IT professionals view AirPrint as a security risk and want it turned off. However, the ability to disable this function may not be available on older devices. Security settings must be considered as a core part of how the organization works. A newer, secure device should have the ability to configure the machine and restrict customer workflows such as using a preprogrammed button to improve efficiency and reduce human error as part of risk management.  

RELATED: Secret Sauce to Seizing Cyber Service Opportunities

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. Security dealers can help customers inspect their existing printers and provide firmware upgrades if the device is otherwise up to date or recommend newer models with security features that suit their policies. 

#3 Educating customers on how to use printer security features 

After determining what a customer needs, dealers can then educate them on how to use the built-in security features in printers. There are three main components that customers should take advantage of: setting passwords, limiting access, and having strong document security features.  

Printers usually come with a general password, but dealers should encourage customers to change the password to something else to prevent hackers from guessing the original. Limiting access is another way to ensure workflow protection. If the printer only recognizes ID badges from authorized personnel, no one else can use the printer for unknown purposes. Having document security features such as including digital signatures also protects content because if a signed document has been changed, the signature will be broken. 

Once dealers help customers master these features, they will have taken a step forward in maintaining their organizations’ cyber hygiene. As more organizations realize the importance of printer security, the practice will become mandatory for business continuity and success.