Print security: how it can help your business

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Why companies should be looking beyond protecting hard copies of documents to securing networks.

UK firms are suffering a record number of security breaches, costing billions of pounds a year, according to a 2012 survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) of more than 400 businesses.

It’s time to address the growing need for security and control in the workplace. The stakes are high – if a business chooses to ignore risks associated with accessible information, the impact can be more than just a short-term loss in profits. In the long-term, businesses can harm their market competitiveness and brand credibility, and erode customer loyalty.

Organizations should prioritize the security of their business documents. Worryingly, according to IDC’s 2011 SMB hard copy survey, only 23 per cent of SMBs are currently using document security software and secure user identification features. Organizations should take a closer look at document management and specifically printing processes, to ensure print data is secure. With the right print solutions and practices in place it shouldn’t be difficult to step up security and protect sensitive information.

Not just about securing devices  

While the importance of not leaving confidential documents on the printer remains self-evident, businesses today should be looking beyond protecting hard copies of documents to securing the networks that print data is sent across.

Print security has become even more important with the increase in remote working supported by wireless and follow-me printing, which allows users to print to any supported network printer within an office space. As a result, it becomes harder to control printer usage and access to specific devices unless the correct security features are in place.

To secure the network, businesses need to work with a print vendor that offers settings such as Transport Layer Security (TLS) on devices. The TLS protocol allows client-server applications to communicate across a network while preventing eavesdropping and tampering as data is encrypted.

Any reputable print vendor should also help support the use of internet protocol (IP) security such as IPsec, a framework of open standards from the Internet Engineering Task Force that define policies for secure communication in a network. If a business is working with the latest version of IP – IPV6, they can be confident they have the highest level of network security standards.

Another key feature for security-conscious businesses is IP address filtering, which enables access to a printer to be restricted to a specific PC or range of PCs. If a business uses this feature they can reduce the likelihood of unauthorized users being able to print unnecessary documents or to change a printer’s settings.

Looking to the future

As technology advances, applications such as built-in encryption printing and secure printing capabilities can further reduce the risk of a security breach. Secure print features enable the user to store documents to print on the printer’s Hard Disk Drive. Only when a four digit, user-defined password is entered on the printer’s front panel, can the document be printed. In turn, secure erase applications help set up the length of time data is kept on a device and, if required, automatically delete all data once printed.

Many innovative multifunction printers also feature scan to email features, which convert a scanned image to a PDF to be sent to email recipients. Advanced multifunctional printers also encrypt the scan to PDF, a password is then needed to open the folder and these can be either globally set or designated for one user when the email is sent.

A smarter approach

In order to ensure print is managed securely, it can be beneficial to work with a print vendor that has experience in this sector and can manage the entire print and document environment. For example, by deploying managed document solutions (MDS), an approach, which consists of a portfolio of programs that help reduce print and document management-related costs and enhance security, businesses can be assured that their printer fleet and network are managed as efficiently and securely as possible.

Once a firm is aware of what they are printing with MDS, they can investigate the opportunity for automated document management workflows to ensure their essential files are stored exactly where they are supposed to be. Plus, expert print vendors can advise and manage the use of user authentication solutions to ensure sensitive hard copies remain protected.

It’s time for businesses to take action and address the increasing need for security in the workplace. It’s not hard to implement secure print workflows to minimize the risk of a data breach – businesses just need to make the most of today’s innovative devices and take guidance from an expert print vendor.

If you would like more information on print security, contact MCC today! 

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