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Printers: the cyber threat hidden in plain sight

  • Sharp Europe research underpins the importance of printer security, and reveals more awareness is needed
  • One in five of Europe’s SMEs admit to being impacted by a printer security breach 
  • Yet, one third of IT decision makers reveal their business has no IT security measures in place to cover printers

Increased security threats such as phishing or ransomware attacks are a very real concern for Europe’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Particularly as the exploitation of new vulnerabilities make networked devices, such as MFPs and printers, prime targets for IT security breaches.

Research commissioned by Sharp Europe – a major provider of business technology products and services to SMEs across Europe, has revealed that almost one in five (19%) of Europe’s SMEs admit to being impacted by a printer security breach. One third had been impacted by data loss (31%), malware (31%), phishing (32%) and computer virus attacks (33%).  

Today’s print threat landscape continues to broaden with the very real challenges that hybrid working presents, from securing network connections to educating against human error. Yet, just 5%  of SMEs worry about the security risk of printers. In fact, one third (32% ) of European small enterprises have no IT security measures in place to cover printers.  

The pan-European research surveyed 5,770 professionals responsible for purchasing IT in their SMEs, on confidence in IT security capabilities and barriers to IT security investment over the next 12 months.

It found that hybrid working was the second highest reason (30%) for increased IT security concerns amongst Europe’s SMEs. Over a quarter (28%) were also worried by the lack of IT security understanding shown by employees. Despite these concerns, only a third (36%)  cover hybrid working as part of their current IT security training and less than a quarter of SMEs educate their employees about scanner (23%) and printer (24%) IT security.

Colin Blumenthal, Vice President, IT Services at Sharp Europe, comments: 

“Big stories about cybercrimes enabled by complex security technology earn the most media attention, yet more often than not, leaders of SMEs don’t understand day-to-day security essentials and overlook potential weak spots such as printers in their document, device, and network security.”

“For smaller businesses without large IT resources, the reality of the ever-expanding threat landscape and challenges presented by hybrid working can feel daunting. SMEs can start by keeping software for scanners and printers updated, regularly backing up data, and encouraging a consistent security policy across teams working from multiple locations to ensure they’re protected. Seeking expert advice can help ensure the right IT security decisions are being made, a holistic security view is being taken, and that solutions are always up to date.”

For more insights and advice on security preparedness for SMEs, please visit our Real World Security Hub.


The research was conducted by Censuswide in Q1 2023 and responded to by 5,770 IT decision makers and people responsible for purchasing IT within SMEs, from 11 countries including Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK.  


About Sharp Europe
Sharp Europe enables small to large enterprises and organisations to enhance performance and adapt for their workplaces of the future through a range of business technology products and services.

Headquartered in London, Sharp Europe serves customers in the private and public sectors, Education and Government, a portfolio ranging from printers and advanced flat screen technologies, collaboration platforms, through to IT services.

As part of Sharp Corporation, and with the backing of Foxconn, Sharp Europe is investing and leading the industry in new areas of technology that have the potential to change the world. It developed the world’s first commercially available 8K monitor and in 2019 launched the world’s first certified Windows collaboration display.