These days, printers do more for us than spewing inked paper. Most printers not only connect to multiple computers at the same time but can also receive remote wireless commands. With almost every aspect of our lives linked to the internet, it can be easy to forget that your laptop and smartphone are not the only devices vulnerable to hackers. As many carriers prep for the 5G network which promises even faster connectivity, it’s a good idea to focus on getting your network secured. Like many other devices, printers linked to your home or office network are vulnerable to printer hacks and here are some of the ways you can secure your network:
How are printers hacked?
Well, it’s much easier than you think! A hacker can use special programs that scan ports used by different printers or other smart devices across internet connected homes. After gathering all possible connections, the hacker then determines which ports are unprotected, giving him/her free access to your devices and network. Apart from just controlling your device remotely, a printer hack can cause leaks of personal information, stolen identity or money, depending on the device hacked because all devices linked to your network are assigned unique ports.
4 Steps to secure your printer and home electronics
Here’s what you can do:
Tip 1: Invest in a firewall
You’ve probably heard the term before. A Firewall is basically a program or group of linked programs that restrict incoming and outgoing network traffic, tests for vulnerabilities on your network regularly and takes necessary steps to fix them. Most firewall systems will also suggest ways to improve your network security. Updating the firmware running on your printer and other smart devices is another way of preventing a printer hack due to outdated software.
Tip 2: Only use protected ports on your network.
Another great way to keep any hacker away from your printer is to restrict your network to only communicate through specified ports. You can also set up your printer to only communicate through these ports, hence eliminating any unprotected ports from your system that hackers could use as a backdoor. As reported by komando, Kaspersky Lab – a security company, advised closing ports 9100, 515, and 721-731 on your printer. This shouldn’t be hard as most user manuals contain a guide on how to do this. If you do not have your printer’s manual, a quick google search including it’s make and model should bring it up.
Tip 3: Use a VPN to protect your home’s network.
VPN stands for “virtual private network.”It is is a network protocol that enables you to extend your private network securely across the web. Users of the private network can access their private systems securely from anywhere as if they were directly linked to the private network. This technology has been used by companies and business for years to connect multiple devices, making them securely accessible over the web.
As our homes feel up with more smart devices, you should consider linking your home’s network to a VPN that encrypts data to and from the web. This adds a much-needed layer of security for your printer and other devices linked to your network. Other benefits of VPN includes;
- Hiding your IP address
VPN allows you to hide your IP address to virtually everyone including your ISP and any potential hackers.
- Hidding your location
Most VPN services allow you to switch your location, making it look like your traffic is coming from another side of the globe.
- VPN Allows you to use public networks( such as on public café) securely, ensuring your privacy while surfing the web.
Tip 4: Leave your printer disconnected!
If you are anything like me, then you probably want to leave your printer linked to WIFI so that you can quickly send commands regardless of what room you are working from. However, you should remember to always turn your printer off or disconnect it from your network or WIFI, when not using it for a long time.
As hackers find new ways to exploit vulnerable systems, implementing the steps explained above should keep you a step ahead, ensuring that your network is secured. It is also a good idea to stay updated on the subject and adjust accordingly as obsolete technologies make way for new and updated ones.
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