Industry Best Practices for Printer Security

April 30, 2019 at 9:15 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 need to go much further than changing a printer’s IP address or knowing how to put a password on a printer. Here are some important considerations for businesses – and ways they can secure their print fleet to protect their systems.

Why is Printer Security Important?

There are several ways that business printers can be compromised or put a 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. 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. All 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. Hiring a Managed Print Solutions provider to maintain not only the security of the 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 an MPS provider tackles is ensuring that office printers have the latest firmware updates across the entire fleet, and can install these updates remotely on all devices at once.

Assess Security Risks at All Points in the Print Lifecycle

Maintaining good printer security practices is critical to protecting today’s business 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. A simple way to consider the areas of security is to perform a mini risk assessment along the entire lifecycle of a print job:

1. Securing Print Jobs as They Leave the Computer

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 the company network be secure, but in the event that a business is using 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. Securing Print Jobs When They Arrive at the Printer

There are several methods of protecting 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.

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. Securing 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 points in time, businesses can better protect their documents 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 Protection with a Managed Print Service Provider

It can be a challenge for businesses to keep up with the latest security practices for printing processes. Outsourcing this expertise can help companies maintain an effective level of print security without needing to re-prioritize or overwhelm busy IT departments. MPS providers can help businesses by implementing systems 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
  • Guide user behavior through system alerts and tools

For businesses looking to get the highest level of security in their print environment, ImageNet has the solutions. For over 60 years, ImageNet has been at the forefront of providing leading print services.

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.

Subscribe to Our Blog