Secure Print: How to Protect the Information at the Printer

Data security is a trending topic these days among businesses of every size. Hackers and cybercriminals have gotten bolder than ever and no organizations are safe anymore. From government offices to hospitals and single-person startups, everyone is feeling the heat. Companies, no matter how large or small, need secure print, internet, and telecommunications infrastructure.

Despite the increased awareness and emphasis on security, there’s one blind spot which companies routinely overlook: the printers. Often situated as a central device in an office’s productivity ecosystem, all manner of sensitive and private information passes across them. Yet, employees rarely think twice about how they might be exposing the business’s most sensitive data.

Protecting information at the printer is every bit as important as protecting it on the network. Here’s why the office printer is a security risk, and how to eliminate that risk with the best practices for achieving a secure print environment.

The Printer Is a Security Risk. Here’s Why.

The printer is a security risk and one that shouldn’t be underestimated. However, it’s so commonly overlooked within offices that it inspired the FTC to issue a statement in 2017 reminding businesses to secure their digital printers and copiers. These devices represent a security risk because:

  • They have hard drives. When a computer or server sends a job to a printer, it first goes to the printer’s hard drive. It’s stored there until it’s printed. In some cases, printers come pre-configured to retain a copy of their print history. That equals sensitive company data simply sitting on a hard drive.
  • They have an internet connection. The highly connected, wirelessly integrated environment of modern offices helps businesses move faster and more smoothly. However, just like computers can talk to the printers, so can other connections – like a hacker snooping on a network.
  • Printer VPNs don’t exist. Virtual private networks (VPNs) mask the traffic to and from a computer. In theory, it should mask the traffic a computer sends to a printer. However, that doesn’t stop hackers from listening in to printer traffic as it scans or faxes to digital areas.
  • They don’t look like computers. The modern digital printer is essentially a computer, but since they don’t look or operate like one, it’s easy to forget about them.

Best Practices for Achieving a Secure Print Environment

Creating a secure print environment is one of the best things a company can do to keep its sensitive information safe. With so many different types of documents printed on a shared printer, these devices quickly become goldmines for cybercriminals seeking easy access to lucrative data. Achieve a secure print environment with these four best practices:

1. Use the Secure Print Configuration

The Secure Print configuration is found under Printer Properties in Microsoft Office on Windows, or under Output Methods in the Preset configurations on Mac. In most cases, this configuration requires users to enter a passcode before a document is printed. However, it can also be configured by the network administrator to include other security features as well.

2. Deploy Secure Printing Software

Secure printing software ensures that a print job is protected from start to finish. It may include similar functions as Secure Print, such as requiring a user to authenticate him or herself before a document gets printed. Likewise, this type of print management software can keep track of who prints what documents, from where, and when.

3. Reduce the Company’s Reliance on Printers

The easiest way to keep sensitive information off the printer is to not print it at all. Find ways to reduce the company’s reliance on printers by embracing digital solutions with robust security already in place.

4. Establish a Policy Against Abandoned Documents

Lost documents aren’t just annoying, they’re also a security risk. Even if a printer is configured not to save its job history, or a user needs to enter a passcode to print, sensitive information can still be at risk of exposure. It may end up on the wrong desk, in the wrong hands, or in the recycle bin instead of the shredder. Counter this by making sure users get into the habit of collecting their printed materials promptly.

5. Use Managed Print Services.

A managed print service provider is a smart move for companies struggling with security. Rather than trying to experiment with printer settings, contact an experienced professional who knows exactly what needs to be done to keep printers and documents safe.

Protect the Printers with Point Management

Printer security is a frequently overlooked but critical element of achieving data security in a company. With all sorts of sensitive information passing across a device shared by many, companies are at risk of having their information exposed to the wrong people. Protect private information by developing a secure print environment – it’s good for customers, employees, and business.

Point Management helps businesses develop their ideal productivity ecosystem. Contact us today to discuss the challenges in your print environment.

How Managed Print Services Are So Much Better Than Ever

Using managed print services to optimize an office? It’s a growing trend. In fact, according to business research group Quocirca, at least 65 percent of businesses do – and that number is growing.

The managed services industry is experiencing tremendous growth, and new providers appear daily. However, in the sea of professionals ready to help companies attain operational efficiency, it can be hard to spot the companies which provide the best value in the long run.

Managed print services deliver significant savings and benefits to companies that deploy them, but not all MPS providers are created equal. Read on to discover the value of managed print services, and how some providers take that value a step further to create additional savings.

The Value of Managed Print Services

Over the last decade, managed print services have become incredibly popular. They’re well-known for their ability to help companies streamline their print environment to make it a lean, effective, productivity-driving process within a company. Traditionally, some of the most common value derived from an MPS include:

Total Visibility of the Print Environment

It’s difficult to eliminate over-printing – and thus overspending on print supplies – if the company doesn’t know exactly how much it’s printing. An MPS injects much-needed clarity into a print environment by installing tracking software, centralizing the printers, and metering supply usage. The result? The company knows exactly what gets printed, where, when, and by whom.

Workflow Optimization

Printing is as natural to a company as breathing is to people. It’s so natural that it often goes unnoticed unless there’s a problem. Even then, many companies trundle along with inefficiencies that workers assume are simply a part of doing business. A managed service provider, however, realigns the print environment so that it plays a supporting role in the greater business ecosystem. Say goodbye to inefficient document processes and say hello to an optimized workflow that gets documents where they need to go – and fast.

Reduced Waste and Overuse

According to the EPA, the average office worker prints 10,000 sheets of paper per year. To put that into perspective, that’s about 20 reams of paper. The EPA also estimates that at least three of those reams will end up immediately in the recycling bin, but only one and three-fourths of those reams will even get recycled. However, what if an office never even had to buy those three reams of paper? With an MPS, that’s possible. An MPS provider helps reduce office waste by reducing unnecessary printing.

Improved Information Security

Believe it or not: printers are one of the easiest devices in an office to hack. They’re a security risk and one that companies frequently overlook. An MPS provider helps make sure this doesn’t happen by introducing and configuring the appropriate printer security features.

Time and Money Savings

Finally, MPS providers wouldn’t be popular if they didn’t deliver the most important value of all: time and cost savings. With an MPS, a company can eliminate costly situations like downtime, outsourced print jobs, unexpected maintenance calls, excessive supply purchasing, and much more.

How The Savings Now Go Further

A good MPS delivers on all five of those points. However, with MPS providers so popular now, it’s a good idea to look for providers that take things a step further. An experienced provider can deliver increased savings through offerings such as:

  • Remanufactured toner programs and deals. Using remanufactured toner is a great way to acquire cost savings without reduced quality. According to Point Management’s in-house specialists, the average price of OEM toner per milliliter is twice the price of human blood. Using remanufactured toner can help reduce that cost by 30 to 60 percent.
  • Predictive maintenance routines. Predictive maintenance is a proactive strategy that uses condition-monitoring tools to spot problems before they arise based on the machine’s performance. Rather than simply adhering to a maintenance schedule – or worse, waiting for something to go wrong – MPS providers that use predictive maintenance help companies save time, money, and stress.
  • Performance-verified strategies. It’s the age of data-driven decision making, and nothing should be left to guesswork. The use of strategies for which the outcomes are known reflects an experienced provider that understands their industry, tools, and devices.

Ensure Success by Keeping the Printers On Point

Managed print services are a popular addition to an office environment. Known for their ability to introduce efficiency and cost savings into a workplace, many companies turn to them. However, not all MPS providers are made equal. While there are many skilled and professional providers available, only some will actively find ways to take the value they provide a step further than the rest. Ensure success by enlisting the help of an MPS provider dedicated to helping you achieve it.

Make Point Management your partner in office workflow management. Start a conversation with a specialist today to discuss your goals for the future.