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Print Security. An Opportunity for the Channel?

By Steven Swift, co-founder & consultant at IDeAs

Last month, along with other industry analysts, I visited HP’s Security Labs in Bristol. HP laid on an impressive array of speakers, who explained the current security landscape, the growing volume and sophistication of threats from hackers, and the efforts HP is putting in to counter these.

Key takeaways from this visit included the sheer scale and evolution of the threats we all now face. One mind boggling statistic quoted was that every day, around the world, an average 350,000 new malwares are created – and if each new malware targets thousands or even millions of users, it is not difficult to see how big a challenge this represents.

But it is not just the number of threats, but also their evolution into more complex dangerous forms which is particularly scary. HP explained how, whereas not so long ago, malware mostly targeted software applications and operating systems, it has now developed to the stage where it can burrow much deeper, into the bios and the firmware of a system – making it much more difficult to counter or remove. 

HP laid on a live demo, in a specially quarantined part of the lab, to show how a real-life malware infected a system, and within a very short space of time rendered it useless and irrecoverable. That is, unless the system is protected in a way which allows the threat to be detected speedily, and a new clean version of the bios to be installed, thus allowing the system to be re-booted in a safe state, before the malware is able to capture or destroy any data.

This is the basis for the suite of security features which HP is now building into its systems, to provide protection both on start-up (HP SureStart) and on an ongoing basis (HP Runtime Intrusion Detection, and additionally for printers,  HP Connection Inspector).

Yes, you may say, we understand, and that sounds good, but it is surely for workstations and servers, not printers. That also appears to be the response of many end-users, who may be prepared to invest in security for their networks and PCs, but have difficulty accepting that they need to pay the same level of attention to network peripherals, such as printers.

And yet printers are just a particularly prominent example of the burgeoning Internet of Things (IOT), which is where hackers are more and more focusing their efforts, precisely because it is less well protected and so more vulnerable.

Part 2 to be published on Thursday

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This article was written on 29 Oct 2019, and is filled under Non classé.

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