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Best Practices for Printer Security

July 29, 2020 at 10:04 AM / by Matthew Schotten - VP of Managed Print Services

Yesterday’s security measures aren’t enough for today’s print environment risks. Today’s businesses must go further than simply changing a printer’s IP address or knowing how to put a password on a printer. We’ve developed an agile set of security considerations and ways you can secure your organization’s print fleet to protect your systems and data.

Why is Printer Security Important?

There are several ways that your organization’s printers can be compromised or put your company’s data at risk. Hackers are continuously finding new ways to break into devices and systems, and security groups have shown that vulnerabilities can lead to stolen data or documents.

Especially for large organizations, the physical printed documents themselves can pose a problem – unclaimed copies sitting in trays for extended periods of time could have sensitive information on them.

Patient Records Security

The security of information is especially crucial in hospitals, where patient data security and confidentiality is second only to patient welfare. The issue of patient records sitting in a printer tray is amplified in settings where the influx of patients can change at the drop of a hat. Copier and MFP hard disks also represent an area of risk. Regulatory groups such as HIPAA require special management and processes for these drives, as they could contain protected health information for individuals.

These areas require attention from businesses to secure their print environments, and many businesses do not have the resources or know-how to maintain adequate security functions. With nearly 30 million printers and MFPs in the U.S. and Europe connected to a network and only 2% of those printers reported as secure, printers present an easy, and abundant, target for hackers.

Hiring a Managed Print Solutions provider to maintain not only the security of your print environment, but also the print workflows, devices, and drivers is an easy, all-in-one step.

Maintain Up-to-Date Printer Firmware

When a manufacturer discovers vulnerabilities in their devices, they will release firmware updates to address and patch those weaknesses. One of the many roles a Managed Print Services (MPS) provider tackles is ensuring that your office printers have the latest firmware updates across the entire fleet, and can install these updates remotely on your devices at once.

Assess Security Risks Throughout the Print Lifecycle

Maintaining good printer security practices is critical to protecting today’s organizational systems and data. At ImageNet, we create a security policy based on our customers’ current print environment and ensure continued assurance of the security settings across all endpoints. With businesses, organizations, and schools switching from a mostly in-office or in-school environment to a distributed, remote, or hybrid environment, leaning on a print security expert with the agility to adapt your print policy and security framework is a must.

A simple way to consider the areas of print security is to perform a mini risk assessment along the entire lifecycle of a print job:

1. Secure Print Jobs as They Leave Your Computer or Smartphone

Whether the source machine is a desktop computer or mobile device, sending jobs over a secured network is a critical component of print security. Not only should your organization’s network be secure, but if your business uses a print server, that requires encryption as well. For environments with multi-user computers or for small businesses, it can be a good idea to password-protect a wireless printer.

2. Secure Print Jobs When They Arrive at Your Printer

There are several methods of protecting your print jobs at the physical printer. One of the highest-recommended systems is an authorized-release process. This method can take several different forms, but all involve a user sending a job to a printer, and then releasing the job upon arrival at that specific device.

In hospital and care facility settings, having an option like Secure Print Release, which allows users to ensure their print job is released to the printer once they’re in the print area and able to confirm their identity, immediately boosts print security and patient confidentiality across the organization.

Often, these systems use a keycard scanner, NFC device, or password authentication into a printer’s display. This prevents sensitive documents from sitting around in a print tray if there is any delay in users picking up their printed materials (or if the job was accidentally sent to the wrong printer).

3. Secure Print Jobs After the Job is Done

Aside from picking up lingering printed materials from the tray, another vulnerability once a print job is done is any data remaining on the printer’s hard drive. While encrypted printer hard drives are not required for all industries, it’s a best practice to uphold good print security by having spooled jobs sent to (and erased from) a removable, encrypted drive.

By supporting printer security along these three key points, businesses and organizations can better protect their documents, data, and systems from security breaches.

Manage User Behavior with Company Printing Policies

Much of IT security depends on managing user behavior. Some of the ways that businesses can encourage users to employ secure printing practices include:

  • Making shredding bins available and accessible to nearby printers
  • Enforcing “time-outs” for unclaimed copies before they are shredded
  • Discouraging staff from printing emails through automated messages and pop-ups

Poor user behavior can accidentally sabotage even the best security systems, so it’s essential to consider the ways that business staff are using a print system – and react to any other identified vulnerabilities in the print environment.

Get Industry-Leading Print Protection

In this challenging environment, many organizations are struggling to keep up with the latest security practices for printing processes. However, placing print security on the backburner means risking a potential security breach. Partner with an expert in print security to help your business eliminate print security threats without reprioritizing or overwhelming your busy IT department. ImageNet can help your business by implementing technology solutions to:

  • Maintain a secure network of printers
  • Control document release at printers
  • Provide bird’s-eye view management of a print fleet remotely
  • Automate driver installation and driver management
  • Define rules for wired and wireless printer security settings – for in-office or at-home printers
  • Guide user behavior through system alerts and tools

Discover how our Managed Print Service solutions can protect your printers and your business by contacting us today!

Topics: Printer Security

Written by Matthew Schotten - VP of Managed Print Services

Matt is responsible for ImageNet’s Managed Print Services strategy, strategic sales support, and hardware and software partner relationships. He is a technology and business visionary with a reputation for developing and implementing corporate-wide technology and rightsizing strategies while controlling costs and minimizing risk. Matt supports ImageNet’s strategy and pre-sales technical support relating to Managed Print Solutions, which is designed to improve ImageNet clients’ productivity, manageability, workflow, and security all while reducing costs and mitigating risk. He currently recruits, develops, motivates and retains a team of IT system engineers, project managers, enterprise sales individuals and business process analysts at ImageNet. Matt is originally from Fort Worth, TX and currently lives in Fairview, TX with his wife and two daughters. Matt’s family lives an active and adventure-filled life, with frequent mountain biking, hiking, snowboarding, and ice hockey excursions. Prior to joining ImageNet in 2009, Matt spent more than nine years working in HP’s printing business.

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