How secure is your company’s sensitive information?

scallinan's picture

Security, a term we are all familiar with, is defined by Wikipedia as ‘…the degree of protection against danger, damage, loss, and criminal activity’.

In the evaluation of Wikipedia’s definition of security, businesses should look comprehensively at information technology and the concept of intelligence within an organization’s business environment. Within any organization, there is a specific area where a business’ intelligence is often openly displayed, in a format easily discoverable and retainable in physical form. This area is a company’s print environment. Print information can contain incredible amounts of confidential information regarding finances, personal data, investor relations and other sensitive information that can put a company in a very vulnerable position. Add to this the increasing use of multi-function printers/devices (MFPs) and the security issue is compounded.

MFPs provide the ability to locally copy, scan, fax and email directly from the device to entities outside of a company’s network. Without ever “printing” from a workstation on the network, confidential information can easily be scanned or copied at the MFP and immediately emailed anywhere in the world. This breach of security is an issue in today’s business print environment.

Fortunately, technologies DO exist today to provide a more safe and secure print environment. Secure printing and device authentication requires users to verify who they are prior to the release of their printed jobs. Once the user approaches the print device and authenticates, the job is released and printed. Authentication can be accomplished through a number of processes including the presentation of a proximity badge to a (installed) reader on the print device. Jobs not claimed for printing can be deleted within a company-defined period of time. Authentication also can control the MPF’s device-based functions of copying, scanning, faxing and emailing, and MPF device-based functions can also be accessible to only certain users and/or by device. It may be a corporate policy to authorize only certain users for the email function on an MFP, for example.

The benefits of a secure print environment actually exceed certain vertical regulatory compliance like HIPPA (HealthCare) and Sarbanes-Oxley (Finance). Corporate “Green” initiatives can also be met with a reduction in print by eliminating (i.e. managing) the print output of unclaimed jobs, reducing print-device consumable usage.

The starting place for evaluating any risk in your print environment begins with understanding your print environment. What devices exist? How are they currently used? What risk factors exist in our print environment and across our network?
The more you know, the better you can view the potential security risks that possibly exist within your organization. Then you can implement the action plans necessary to secure (and manage) your print operations.