3 printer security risks Christian Slater wants to teach you about September 9, 2019

You may remember Christian Slater from his 1988 role as the bad boy heart-throb in the killer comedy Heathers. It was his role as the mysterious hacker in Mr. Robot, however, that made him the perfect person to play The Wolf in HP’s mini-series about the importance of printer security. You should definitely watch the videos for yourself (awesome production values, acting, editing, soundtrack—the experience is like Hollywood cyber-thriller meets public service announcement). So you can simply sit back and enjoy the show, we’ve summarized the three most important messages from the series for you here.

RISK #1: An unprotected printer is a hole in your company’s security.

Of the hundreds of millions of business printers in the world, only two per cent are secure. That’s because we tend to focus our attention on computers and servers and ignore the lowly printer. This ignorance is bliss for anyone who wants to compromise our systems or get their hands on our information. An unprotected printer creates a crack in the toughest security armour—a crack that hackers will exploit to get to the good stuff.

 

Now, if you’re thinking “no one would want to hack our little company,” think again: 70 per cent of Canadian data breaches happen in companies with fewer than 100 employees (CIRA 2018 Cybersecurity survey report). A smaller organization is easier to compromise, and can be used as a back door to a bigger, more desirable target. So even if your data isn’t that important to a hacker, they might just want to use you to get to them.

 

“Hacking is a serious and growing problem for businesses and consumers. When HP asked me to partner on this series, I thought it was a great opportunity to help educate the public about how to better protect against cyberattacks.”

- Christian Slater, award-winning actor

Risk #2: People are the weakest link

The easiest and most effective way to get around your organization’s security is to use your people to help.

Hackers use sophisticated and highly personalized strategies to enlist the help of unwitting employees. In HP’s video, The Wolf uses data he’s stolen on staff members to discover it’s an employee named Janice’s birthday. He sends Janice a birthday email with a gift certificate to her favourite spa (a strategy called phishing). When she prints it, The Wolf gets access to every computer on the network, because the printers don’t monitor for threats.

This isn’t an unusual scenario. In fact, employee and contractor negligence is responsible for two out of every three insider security breaches according to a Ponemon Institute report.

Risk #3: Not every security threat is digital

How often have you had to dig through a pile of your colleagues’ unclaimed printouts to find yours? Now imagine that you’re a disgruntled employee or an unwanted visitor to your office, and one of the unclaimed printouts is highly sensitive information.

When confidential documents fall into the wrong hands, it can spell disaster.

That’s what happens in HP’s video. The Wolf is able to stroll by the office printer and lift a confidential report—no digital dirty work required. Of course, this crisis would be averted if the office printers used technology that required a user to enter credentials to print their documents (called “pull printing”). With pull printing, nothing gets printed until you’re standing at the printer, so you’re much less likely to forget you’ve printed a document. This improves your on-site security and saves you money on unnecessary print jobs.

That wraps up our three lessons. If HP’s mini-movie and our analysis has got you thinking that it might be time to review your organization’s printer security, we’d love to help—just ask for our free printer analysis. And if you want more of The Wolf, you can watch the full 20-minute cybercrime thriller featuring Slater and Jonathan Banks of Breaking Bad fame. We agree with the YouTube commenter who said it’s better than most dramas on Netflix.