Although wireless printers have made the printing job effortless, they are still vulnerable to hackers. Printers have been reported as an easy gateway for attackers to get into your local network.
If proper security measures are not taken, anyone could make unsolicited changes to the printer configuration. You could be dealing with random print requests to the printer, or in the worst case, you could be restricted from accessing your own printer.
Use Wi-Fi Direct
Wi-Fi Direct lets you connect your phone and computer directly to the printer without the involvement of any intermediate device like a router. In order to connect your printer using Wi-Fi Direct, the users must have knowledge of the Wi-Fi Direct SSID and the password.
The steps to enable Wi-Fi Direct on your printer may vary depending on the manufacturer. Most of them have a dedicated button on their button panel to enable Wi-Fi Direct and you can print a network configuration page to find the password. You may also consult the user manual of your printer to get the password.
Here, I will demonstrate how to get the Wi-Fi Direct SSID and password of an HP printer.
Launch HP Smart.
Go with the Printer Settings option.
Click Advanced Settings.
Click the Wi-Fi Direct menu.
You will see the default Wi-Fi Direct SSID and password of your printer there. Click Edit Settings to change it.
Choose Manual in the Connection Method drop-down.
Give a new Wi-Fi Direct name and password to the printer and click Apply.
Create a Guest Network
Wi-Fi Direct may not be the best choice if you are in a corporate environment with multiple devices that need to print. With Wi-Fi Direct, you can only connect a few devices to the printer at a time and the coverage area of Wi-Fi Direct could also be an issue.
In such cases, it would be better if you create a guest network on your router. With the guest network enabled you will have two Wi-Fi SSID broadcasting from the router—main SSID and guest SSID.
First, connect the printer to the guest SSID. Doing this will isolate your printer from all other devices on the main SSID. Then connect your phone or PC to the same guest SSID to start the printing process.
Log in to the router and access its configuration page.
Go to Guest Network settings.
Uncheck this option if it is available on your router.
Configure the guest network settings and save the changes.
Enable Password Protected Sharing
If you are sharing your printer locally through your PC, you can enable password-protected sharing so that other people need to enter the password when adding your printer to their computer. It will provide an extra layer of security for people trying to access your printer.
Open Control Panel on your computer and go to View network status and tasks.
Choose Change advanced sharing settings.
Turn on password protection and click Save changes.
Set the Printer Admin Password
You can also prevent unauthorized access to the printer by setting an admin password on the printer. Once the password protection is enabled, no one can access the Embedded Web Server (EWS) of your printer and make changes except you.
To enable a password on your printer, you should first know the IP address of your printer. Then, go to the administrator settings and enable password protection. Follow these steps to enable the printer password if you own an HP printer.
Open HP Smart.
Tap Printer Settings.
Click Advanced Settings.
See the IP address of the printer.
Load the address in your browser.
Go to Settings >Security > Password Settings.
Enter the password, confirm it and click Apply.
Enable MAC Filtering
You can also enable MAC filtering on your router to restrict devices from using the printer. However, you should first know the MAC address of the device you are trying to block. Also, note that MAC filtering not only restricts that particular device from accessing the printer but also restricts it from accessing the Internet.
Here’s how to enable MAC filtering on TP-LINK routers.
Open the configuration page of the router.
First, check the clients that are connected to the router using the DHCP Client List.
Note the MAC address of the device you want to block.
Then go to Wireless > Wireless MAC Filtering.
Configure the new entry.
Update Printer Firmware
As firmware updates include the latest security patches for your printer, you should periodically check and update the firmware to secure the printer from any kind of vulnerability.
You can update the firmware easily using the Embedded Web Server (EWS) of the printer.
Let’s see how to update the firmware on HP printers.
Load the IP address of your printer on a web browser.
Go to Tools > Printer Updates > Firmware Updates.
Click Check Now.
Download and install if any updates are available.
Other Ways to Secure Wireless Printers
Here’re some ideas that worked for many users to secure wireless printers.
Power off the printer or remove papers from the input tray when not in use.
Enable sleep mode on printer. Configure the printer to enter sleep mode immediately after a few minutes of inactivity.
Only connect the printer to your home network. Never use it on a public Wi-Fi or hotspot.
Change the printer name and disguise it as a mobile phone or computer on a network.