If your organization relies on devices, programs, or systems that temporarily store information during processing, you might be at risk of spooling attacks. So, what is spooling in cyber security? When spooling occurs, a perpetrator can gain access to sensitive information within your organization’s networks. Read our blog to learn more about spooling.
What is Spooling in Cyber Security? A Comprehensive Breakdown
To define “what is spooling in cyber security” it helps to break down:
- The various types of spooling attacks
- How attackers choose to spool targets
- How spooling attacks work
- Methods to prevent spooling security risks
Safeguarding your IT infrastructure from spooling cybersecurity risks will secure sensitive data and other assets on your networks, especially with the help of a managed security services provider (MSSP).
What is Spooling?
To define spooling, you must know the acronym, which stands for simultaneous peripheral operations online, a process by which a computer temporarily stores data in a location where it can be retrieved later. Devices such as printers or computers rely on spooling as a buffer system to keep some processes “in a line” while others are running.
In practical terms, you can think of the spooling meaning as the action of reeling a spool of film and unreeling it later when you find it more convenient to review its contents.
The spooling definition as it relates to cybersecurity depends on which assets are affected.
For example, operating systems and printers can both be affected. However, the process may look different for each asset.
Spooling in Operating Systems
Operating systems that simultaneously process multiple requests may use spooling to run some processes while staging others until the system is ready for them. By batching resources, an operating system can successfully process requests without being overwhelmed and, consequently, crashing.
In the case of a printer, any print job you send to a printer is kept in a temporary memory “hold” until the printer is ready to print your file. This temporary output file may be stored in a location on your computer (e.g., a hard disk).
Why Spooling is a Target for Attacks
Cyber attackers target spooling because they can piggyback off the spooling mechanism and overwhelm systems or devices with network traffic. Furthermore, many systems or devices that still use spooling are not updated with security patches as frequently as those that do not rely heavily on spooling.
How a Spooling Attack Works
When a spooling attack occurs, a perpetrator will send large amounts of traffic to a system or device that typically spools processes. Overwhelming the device or system with many requests overloads it, takes up a large percentage (or all) of its working memory, and eventually limits its availability or completely crashes it.
How to Prevent Spooling Attacks
Since most spooling attacks exploit unrestricted user access privileges, an effective counter defense is to harden your assets, such as systems or servers. For example, if a printer still runs on a server but has several dormant services available, it may be at risk of a spooling attack.
Turning off non-essential services will help limit the attack surface area and minimize the risks of an attack. You can also prevent spooling attacks by establishing stringent security policies that restrict users with non-administrator-level privileges to change the account settings of devices like printers.
Ways to Upgrade Your Security Against Spooling Attacks
The most effective way to protect your digital assets from spooling attacks is to:
- Install security patches as soon as they are released
- Conduct frequent security audits to identify gaps in controls
- Increase your security coverage to limit the attack surface area
Even after upgrading your security against spooling attacks, a more streamlined solution is to outsource IT security to an MSSP, who can oversee the implementation of security controls.
Why Hire a Cybersecurity Company to Prevent Spooling Attacks
Investing in outsourced IT security goes a long way in mitigating threats like spooling.
Most MSSPs have extensive experience dealing with various types of security threats and are well-positioned to guide you on best practices that will prevent these attacks.
If your organization handles sensitive high-risk data, outsourcing IT security to an MSSP will also help lighten the burden and ensure these data are protected year-round. Partnering with an MSSP will help you avoid the fines and penalties of regulatory non-compliance, especially where strict technical requirements are concerned.
When To Consider Hiring A Cyber Security Company
Keeping your organization safe from spooling attacks starts with answering the question we began with above: “what is spooling in cyber security?” As we’ve discussed, spooling can be prevented by hiring an experienced MSSP, who will improve your controls and safeguard your data from breach risks. To learn more about outsourcing IT security, contact RSI Security today!