Sharp Research Shows Unsecured Printers Still Significant Security Threat

Increased security threats such as phishing and ransomware attacks are a very real concern for Europe’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs), according to new research from Sharp Europe. The company says that the exploitation of new vulnerabilities make networked devices, such as MFPs and printers, prime targets for IT security breaches.

It also notes that its research shows that one in five of European small and mid-size enterprses (SMEs) admit to being affected by a printer security breach. Despite this, one third of IT decision makers reveal their business has no IT security measures in place to cover printers.

Sharp Research Findings

Research commissioned by Sharp Europe, revealed that almost one in five (19 percent) of Europe’s SMEs admit to being impacted by a printer security breach. One third had been impacted by data loss (31 percent), malware (31 percent)), phishing (32 percent)) and computer virus attacks (33 percent)).  

The company said that today’s print threat landscape continues to broaden with the very real challenges that hybrid working presents, from securing network connections, to educating against human error. Yet, just 5 percent  of SMEs worry about the security risk of printers. In fact, one third (32 percent) of European small enterprises have no IT security measures in place to cover printers.  

Sharp’s pan-European research surveyed 5,770 professionals responsible for purchasing IT in their SMEs, on confidence in IT security capabilities and barriers to IT security investment over the next 12 months.

It found that hybrid working was the second highest reason (30 percent) for increased IT security concerns among Europe’s SMEs. Over a quarter (28 percent) were also worried by the lack of IT security understanding shown by employees. Despite these concerns, only a third (36 percent)  cover hybrid working as part of their current IT security training and less than a quarter of SMEs educate their employees about scanner (23 percent) and printer (24 percent) IT security.

Colin Blumenthal, vice president of Sharp Europe IT Services,  explained: “Big stories about cybercrimes enabled by complex security technology earn the most media attention, yet more often than not, leaders of SMEs don’t understand day-to-day security essentials and overlook potential weak spots such as printers in their document, device, and network security.

“For smaller businesses without large IT resources, the reality of the ever-expanding threat landscape and challenges presented by hybrid working can feel daunting. SMEs can start by keeping software for scanners and printers updated, regularly backing up data, and encouraging a consistent security policy across teams working from multiple locations to ensure they’re protected. Seeking expert advice can help ensure the right IT security decisions are being made, a holistic security view is being taken, and that solutions are always up to date,” Blumenthal said.

For more insights and advice on security preparedness for SMEs, visit Sharp’s Real World Security Hub.


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