6 Overlooked Hard Drive Devices That Need Protection

Posted  April 03, 2018  by  Jenny Green


A recent survey[1] shows that 95% of businesses agree that a digital workplace is important, however many organisations overlook certain types of digital equipment that are vulnerable to information thieves.

With a smarter, faster workplace, businesses often concentrate on ensuring the security of laptops, desktop computers and connected devices. However, some less obvious devices can also pose a security risk because any device, such as a printer or USB flash drive, can be hacked and used to exploit your business or your customers’ personal data. Here are six devices which are often not considered to be a risk but should be secured like any regular laptop or computer:

  1. Printers and photocopiers

According to Quocirca[2], over 60% of businesses experience a print-related data breach. As part of your privacy processes, your business is likely to keep physical printed documents secure, however hard drives in digital copiers and printers scan and store the images of documents, leaving organisations wide open to a security breach. The HP Australia IT Security Study[3] found that of the 43% of Small Medium Businesses (SMBs) that had undertaken a risk assessment, just 29% included printers in their analysis – compared to 78% for servers and 76% for PCs.

Security tips: Treat your printer like you would one of your network computers; control the access of your printers with user authentication, keep the equipment in a secure place and encrypt the printer hard drive which can send document files to email or network folders. Ensure that the memory storage within printers and photocopiers are securely disposed of, such as shredded, when no longer required.

  1. Fax machines

A recent poll[4] showed that 62% of organisations still use fax machines usually because their customers and suppliers use them and because faxing is a trusted method of secure information exchange. For those that do use fax machines, the hard drive inside the fax stores a copy of the documents that are sent.

Security tips:A workplace fax policy should ensure safe usage and disposal procedures. Situate the fax machine in a secure location and ensure its hard drive is securely destroyed at the end of its life.

  1. Routers

Although a router doesn’t store information, sensitive data passes through it each time it is used by computers, mobile phones and other devices and this information can be stolen if your router is hacked.

Security tips:Ensure your router is configured properly, uses password protection and its security is up-to-date.

  1. ‘Internet of things’ devices

With billions of gadgets[5] such as smart devices, vehicles and home appliances using the internet every day, although cybercrimes on Internet of Things (IoT) are relatively scarce, it is only a matter of time before criminals focus their energy on taking advantage of the many security gaps with these devices. Symantec’s 2018 Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR)[6] revealed an alarming 600% increase in IoT attacks.

Security tipsReview or create a workplace policy that outlines what devices are appropriate and how to secure them. Research the vulnerabilities of smart devices before you purchase and use strong encryption and password protection.

  1. Mobile devices

Recent exposed security flaws from attacks such as Meltdown and Spectre[7] exploit both iPhone and Android smartphones, so now is more important than ever to ensure mobile phones are protected.

Security tips:Every workplace should have a mobile phone policy that articulates safe use protocols including; IT safeguards, password protection, employee training and continuous monitoring and evaluation. Users should avoid downloading apps from unfamiliar sites and ensure that they have a means of securely destroying and recycling unwanted devices.

  1. Electronic storage devices

Many people use unsecured USB flash drives or portable hard drives so they can take work home with them or to another location. Hackers often exploit USBs and have the ability to embed malware viruses such as BadUSB[8] that can spy, modify, fabricate or send data from any device to which it is connected. If a USB or a hard drive is physically misplaced, this can also result in a privacy breach.

Security tipsOnly use secured USB and hard drives and never use or open files in an unknown portable device. Avoid using public ports and use separate devices for work and personal use.

Ensure that all devices and media with the capacity to store data are securely destroyed – not stockpiled or recycled – when devices break down or are replaced. A workplace should partner with a trustworthy document destruction company that provides secure media destruction services

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To learn more about how Shred-it can protect your documents and hard drives, please contact us to get a free quote.

[1]Digital Workplace Group. 2017. Survey results: 2017 digital workplace trends. [ONLINE] Available at: https://digitalworkplacegroup.com/2017/06/14/survey-results-2017-digital-workplace-trends/. [Accessed 11 April 2018].

[2]Quocirca. 2013. Print Security: The Cost Of Complacency. [ONLINE] Available at: http://quocirca.com/content/print-security-cost-complacency-121. [Accessed 11 April 2018].

[3]Australian Security Magazine. 2018. HP Study Reveals Many Australian SMBs Unprepared for New Data Breach Laws. [ONLINE] Available at: https://australiansecuritymagazine.com.au/hp-study-reveals-many-australian-smbs-unprepared-for-new-data-breach-laws/. [Accessed 11 April 2018].

[4]Spiceworks. 2017. Poll: Who still uses fax? Why or why not?. [ONLINE] Available at: https://community.spiceworks.com/topic/1976556-poll-who-still-uses-fax-why-or-why-not. [Accessed 11 April 2018].

[5]Gartner. 2015. Gartner Says 6.4 Billion Connected "Things" Will Be in Use in 2016, Up 30 Percent From 2015. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3165317. [Accessed 11 April 2018].

[6]Symantec. 2018. Internet Security Threat Report 2018. [ONLINE] Available at: http://resource.symantec.com/LP=5538?cid=70138000000rm1eAAA. [Accessed 11 April 2018].

[7]CSO. 2018. Meltdown and Spectre affect the smartphone in your pocket. Should you be worried?. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.csoonline.com/article/3245796/mobile/meltdown-and-spectre-affect-the-smartphone-in-your-pocket-should-you-be-worried.html. [Accessed 11 April 2018].

[8]CSO. 2016. Say hello to BadUSB 2.0: A USB man-in-the-middle attack proof of concept. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.csoonline.com/article/3087484/security/say-hello-to-badusb-20-usb-man-in-the-middle-attack-proof-of-concept.html. [Accessed 11 April 2018].

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