Networked printers are an often-overlooked security vulnerability in the workplace. Unfortunately, they can present an even bigger risk for remote employees who are telecommuting. Modern employees still rely on paper documents to do their jobs, regardless of whether they are working from an office or their homes. As a result, unsecured home printers are soft targets, posing a potentially huge security problem for many businesses.

Once connected to the internet, a printer is vulnerable to hacks, just like any other connected device. And like these other devices, the modern printer has a memory that stores copies of data it handles, often data of a sensitive nature. Cybercriminals can gain unauthorized access to this confidential information through unsecured connected printers. In addition, these devices also provide hackers and other bad actors an opportunity to gain a foothold into your network to do even more harm.

To illustrate the reality of this vulnerability, cybersecurity experts at CyberNews recently conducted an experiment to demonstrate the lack of protection on networked devices. They selected a sample of 50,000 open printers accessible via the internet and hacked them, sending a custom printing script to these devices. This script was able to hijack the printing processes of almost 28,000 of these printers (56 percent), forcing them to print out a document about printer security. Their project illustrates how printers remain one of the weakest links when it comes to network security.

Your company’s printers—as well as those home office printers used by employees working remotely—must be included in your cybersecurity strategy to protect your data and network.