How secure is your printer?

Smart devices make your work-from-home environment smarter, but this added functionality comes with a potential downside. It’s no secret that internet-connected devices are heavily besieged by hackers. With many office workers working from home, increased attention needs to be paid to the security of personal and corporate data. Inside every printer and MFP lurks an easily overlooked potential vulnerability: the supplies cartridge.

How a toner cartridge chip works

Printer cartridges are equipped with embedded integrated circuit (IC) microcontroller chips that contain code that allows them to communicate with the printer and perform essential functions. Without tight control over the origin of the chip and its encoding, and safeguards against tampering with the cartridge at every step of its lifecycle, customers’ devices and networks could be at risk. It is becoming increasingly clear that all network endpoints – including printers and MFPs – need to be fortified against potential attacks.

How to protect your printer

Make sure you only buy reputable brand cartridges. Well-known and reputable companies invest a lot of time and effort into the security of their devices.

At HP, for example, security is built into every step of the design, production and supply chain process for genuine office cartridges. HP has always taken cyber security threats seriously and designed its devices to be among the most secure in the industry.

To protect users, chips in Original HP office ink cartridges contain tamper-resistant, proprietary HP firmware that cannot be modified by third parties after production and helps reduce the risk of malicious code penetrating the cartridge chip.

The company uses chips with secure “smart card” technology — the same chip technology used in credit and debit cards — that authenticate themselves and then allow information to be securely transmitted back and forth between the printer and the chip. Non-HP chips can use general-purpose microcontrollers that can be vulnerable to reprogramming or malware code injection.

When it comes to packaging, special construction designs and adhesives contribute to tamper evident packaging. HP adds further security with a tamper-evident label on the tear strip and a zip-sealed inner package. Once opened, the box cannot be resealed. If the cartridge packaging has been tampered with, the box may very well contain a non-genuine cartridge, a counterfeit cartridge, a chip of unknown origin containing malware, or worse.

HP also takes care to identify and mitigate security risks in the supply chain to reduce the risk of malware penetrating the chip.

You get what you pay for

Non-genuine, aftermarket third-party cartridges can not only cause damage to your printer, but also void the printer warranty.

When a company remanufactures or refills a cartridge, it may or may not reuse the original HP chip. When a genuine chip is reused, when a remanufactured or refilled cartridge is inserted into the printer, the chip recognizes that the cartridge has been refilled and notifies the printer and the user that the cartridge is no longer genuine. This is important as not all remanufactured or refilled cartridges are clearly marked and packaged to indicate that they are no longer genuine cartridges.

When buying cartridges from the Internet, some websites are not entirely clear as to whether a cartridge is genuine or not. When the unalterable HP chip tells the user that the office cartridge is no longer original, it helps the user to be sure that they got what they wanted to buy. Some remanufactured or refilled cartridges and all newly built knock-off cartridges use non-HP chips with programs not written by HP. You are not sure. Using genuine cartridges helps protect the integrity of your office systems and prevent malicious attacks.

If you are looking for a partner to support your company on its technological journey and to provide you with technologies that are smarter, safer and more sustainable, arrange a personal consultation with us today: Take care of your business technology – Tarsus Distribution.

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