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Devising a Printer Security Strategy

As we discussed last week, an unmanaged office printer can pose a security risk. Along with a purpose-built managed print service, there are steps that any organization can take to protect themselves from printer-based security issues.

Utilize preloaded security features
Most multifunction units come loaded with options such as access control, authentication, and other built-in security features. IT administrators should regularly check for firmware updates and configuration recommendations that help protect the device while on the network. When possible, it’s a good idea to house printers in a safe area and incorporate locks, approved user badges, and smart cards that protect against physical removal.

Encrypt data
Because office printers are often a shared resource, the typical print job data will travel across a network of connected computers. While the original data may be protected on the source system, print jobs sent over a network are usually sent in plaintext that can be easily intercepted by the simplest of hacking methods. Data encryption protects the data as it travels across all points in the network.

Keep print environment updated
For many companies, simply organizing their documents is the extent of their print management strategy. As a link in an organization’s network, a printer is just as important as any other network point. There are tools available to help IT administrators track virtually every key aspect of the printing environment – such as utilities that make it easy to track print jobs and keep up with the users running them. With these tools, administrators can identify users who may be violating printing policies and even opportunities that allow an organization to reduce print jobs and save money.

Old printers
Many printers store small amounts of data on their internal hard drives and when the old equipment is discarded, the data goes right along with it. IT administrators should make sure all printer data has been deleted from the device, or the hard drive should be removed entirely if possible, before letting it go. In many cases, those hard drives can then be connected to a PC and erased.

Managed print services (MPS) from Capital Business Systems help organizations optimize, streamline, and simplify their printing environment.

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