As an IT professional, office manager or business owner, you know that data security is a top priority for your organization. With cyber attacks on the rise, the question is no longer if data will be compromised, but when. One important area of vulnerability that may not be on your radar is the security of your office printers.

Printer Security

Hewlett Packard research reports that 90% of enterprises say they have suffered at least one data loss through unsecured printing. Organizations take steps to protect data on networks, computers and servers, yet overlook the network printer. A recent Spiceworks survey of more than 300 enterprise IT decision-makers found that just 16% of respondents think printers are at high risk for a security threat/breach. Moreover, only around 40% of organizations deploy user authentication and use administrative passwords. The risk is real, as hackers have used vulnerable printers to send messages to a variety of organizations. 

Four Steps to Take in Securing Your Printer Environment:

1. Conduct a Printer Security Assessment

Print security is one important component of understanding the costs of new copiers and printers. A basic risk assessment report provides a glimpse into your print security vulnerabilities. A team of secure print professionals can install printer utility software that verifies your fleet's security settings against a set of secure policy guidelines. The process will identify and report any non-compliant features.

2. Set Up Authentication Controls and Limit Access

Authorizing printer use only for designated staff using badge scans or passcodes, and tracking printer use is essential in the event of a forensics investigation. Software that implements these processes will show who has been printing, what and how much they printed, when they did it and prevent unauthorized usage.

3. Implement a Secure Release Solution that Eliminates Abandoned Print

In many organizations, people use the "print and sprint" strategy – send a file to the printer and then run so no one sees their output before they reach the printer. Software solutions exist that allow jobs to be held at the server level and not released until the user authenticates at the device via a badge scan or passcode. At that time, the user can choose to print or delete the job, eliminating lots of abandoned prints that may contain sensitive information and lead to a security breach and jeopardize compliance laws. These solutions also allow for automatic deletion of print jobs held longer than a specified amount of time (ie: 3 days or you determine that limit), eliminating confusion at the printer when accessing files. 

With the evolution of remote and work-from-home strategies due to the COVID-19 pandemic, printer security for workers in industries with compliance regulations became even more important. Cloud print solutions allow for secure follow-me-print that require authentication and can track costs and provide built-in reporting and analysis.

4. Utilize new technology that constantly monitors printer threats 

Instant notification of security issues can prevent potential attacks and enable immediate action to be taken. Newly developed solutions will allow users to:

  • Automatically monitor threats
  • Detect intrusions
  • Validate operating software 

Unmanaged printers and multifunctional devices that copy, print, scan and fax are gateways to a breach in your network. It's essential for data protection and organizational security to identify the gaps in print environments and take action to secure all devices. Learn more about the benefits of Managed Print Services.

Download a Strategic Roadmap to Managed Print Services Guide 

Read Next: Printer Security: Protecting Your Organization from Network Attacks

John Turner

John Turner is the VP of Customer Success and Managed Print Services at Loffler Companies. He's a big Vikings fan and a crowd favorite around the Loffler office (in addition to his always-positive attitude, he's Loffler's resident baker: he's known to treat everyone to home-made baked goods at several company events!)

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