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A quick guide to secure print management.jpg

How secure is your business data? For many companies, data protection is an ongoing concern. Sensitive, confidential and important business information can become a serious security concern as any breach may affect the whole company including its employees.

As an IT or business manager, you are tasked with constantly maintaining a secure and reliable infrastructure – from computers and mobile devices to networks and storage servers. However, how much emphasis do you place on secure print management? Your printers and multi-function devices (MFDs) can become security risks and expose your organisation to data breaches.

In this post, we will take a closer look at print management – what it is, why you need a secure print environment, and how you can enhance the security of your print devices and networks. So, let’s get started.

What is print management?

Print management is an efficient way of handling all the printing requirements of an organisation, which includes looking after all print devices, networks and processes.

Print management can be a complex undertaking especially for a larger organisation. Managing print tasks can become difficult when it involves hundreds of computers divided by division and many network printers connected and managed within a single IT infrastructure.

Why do you need to have a secure print management environment?

You and your staff print numerous documents each day. These documents may be important and can contain sensitive or confidential information.

A secure print management environment would enable you to print documents securely via a network printer. This means that no one else can pick-up or see the printed document. Any data breach from unintended viewing may cause problems for the business if confidential information is leaked.

Apart from the internal data breach, there may also be an external security breach. According to a recent article from The Register, a white-hat hacker hacked 160,000 printers across the internet and commanded them to emit ASCII art pages saying, “Your printer is part of a flaming botnet” or “Your printer has been owned”. Although this was done as a prank with no apparent negative effects, it is alarming that one person can control so many printers connected to the internet.

This is just one example of a printer-related data breach. It highlights the need for businesses to take printer security risks seriously, and create a secure print infrastructure.

How to achieve secure print management

Developing a secure print management strategy can take some time and effort. Here are a few tips to help improve the security of your printers, MFDs and networks:

1. Review and analyse the company’s needs

Define what secure print management is for the company. What kind of security software will be used to protect users and printers? It would be worth conducting an extensive audit to better understand the entire print infrastructure and identify security risks - plus areas where processes need to be improved.

2. Make sure all your printers are secure

It’s easy to add a new printer into your network, especially when most of them now come with plug-and-play capabilities. But before you do this, first make sure each machine has updated firmware, and is configured to adhere to your network’s overall security measures.

Your IT department should be able to monitor all print hardware and software in real time and be able to detect any data security breach.

3. Implement follow-me printing

Consider implementing a ‘follow-me’ or ‘pull printing’ solution. This technology enables the printer to ‘hold’ documents on a virtual server, until the user is properly identified through a secure ID card or code. Follow-me printing protects your sensitive documents from unauthorised access, and lessens the risk of confidential information being left in printer trays.

4. Document your print security policies

This will serve as a useful handbook that includes automated processes, reliable and secure devices, user guidelines, and defined responsibilities of the CEO, Finance Manager, IT Manager and End-Users.

The policies should include the management of passwords and access levels to ensure that only authorised printing is allowed – saving on print costs and increasing document security. Also, any system can have errors or breakdowns, so users should have a feedback or reporting system to inform the IT Department of any problems.

In conclusion

Data breaches can cause critical and damaging effects your business and staff. That is why you should take the necessary steps to protect your data, and improve the security of your entire print infrastructure - from print devices and networks to systems and processes. This not only protects the company’s printed data but also reduces waste, increases productivity and efficiency, resulting in higher profitability for the business.

Managed Print Services is a flexible and scalable print solution that can meet the changing needs of your organisation in the new era of work. To learn how you can reduce your costs, minimise risk, improve your environmental footprint and gain greater control of your print environment, download our Managed Print Services Fact Sheet.