Printer Security Initiative to Begin in October

by Carl Flynn

Which device in your office do you think presents the greatest threat to the security of our campus network?  If you suggested the old computer in the corner of your office that runs Windows 95 and has not been updated in 4 years, that is an obvious place to begin.  But how many would suspect that one of the threats to an otherwise secure network environment would be the networked printer in your office?

Out of the box, most networked printers have several different network protocols enabled in addition to some form of data storage.  Placed in the right hands, this combination proves a rich breeding ground for denial of service or other attacks on our campus network.  To address this concern, ITS network security staff will soon begin a systematic process of closing security holes on as many networked printers as possible.  The process of securing these printers will be transparent to many since the majority of campus printing is accomplished through our centralized print server.  As our technicians move from network to network, email messages will be sent just in case the security measures make it so that users can no longer print.

Apple users will be the most directly affected by these increased security measures as the primary protocol the MacOS uses to locate and initialize printers will be blocked in the process of securing campus printers.  The ITS security group established a Web site (www.baylor.edu/its/printing) that describes the project and details the steps Apple users should follow to properly install printers.

This new initiative will add another layer of protection against potential attacks on our network that may compromise sensitive information and hamper its efficiency.