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How to Avoid an Enterprise Printing Breach

Posted by Jason Callahan on March 11th, 2019

According to a 2015 Security Pressures Report by Trustwave, 70% of businesses believe they're safe from cyber attacks and data compromises. That means the vast majority of organizations—seven out of every ten!—think their existing IT security measures, including their enterprise print security, are good enough.

It shouldn't come as a shock to discover that confidence is worryingly misplaced. Traditional print-management solutions like print servers are vulnerable by nature, which means that even with the greatest will in the world, they just aren't up to the task of providing your print environment with the security it needs in today’s always-connected environment.

So if you haven't already found an enterprise print-management solution that ensures a high level of security or implemented some kind of secure printing service, it's become more urgent than ever to take steps in that direction. At this point, given the incredible rise in cybercrime in recent years and the growing sophistication of hackers and other malicious actors, it's only a matter of time before your print environment is breached and sensitive data is accessed by someone who shouldn't have it. For all you know, a breach could be taking place in your organization right now.

That's not meant to sound alarmist. It's just the reality of things. And if a breach happens, it can cost a pretty penny. In regulated industries like healthcare, fines for data breaches can run into the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. Regardless of industry, data breaches can shake the trust of your consumers, your investors and your employees.

In short, insufficient security doesn't just leave your organization at risk of embarrassment. It's also bad for business.

Print Servers: Easy Pickings for Hackers
Print servers and other server-based print-management solutions have common print queues and shared document caches. This is like gathering all your valuables and putting them in one shoebox in your closet. Once that storage location is compromised, everything is at risk of being accessed.

The upside is that it's possible to improve enterprise print security simply by design. Serverless print-management solutions like PrinterLogic are able to eliminate the need for print servers. In turn, that eliminates print servers' single point of vulnerability. Client-based print queues can be much harder for malicious actors to target and they keep sensitive print data distributed across the environment. For malicious actors, locating the treasure trove becomes more like a snipe hunt.

Two Steps to Enterprise Print Security
Another way to thwart prying eyes is to make use of secure printing services like authentication-based pull printing. This splits the printing of sensitive documents into two steps. In the first step, the end user simply clicks “print” as usual. However, the document isn’t automatically printed. Instead, it’s held in a virtual queue on the workstation. In the second step, the end user intentionally releases the print job to the printer using some kind of authentication mechanism.

What that authentication mechanism looks like will depend largely on your organization’s preferences as well as the limitations of your existing enterprise print-management solution. With PrinterLogic’s secure printing module, you have the freedom to choose from several different release methods.

  • Embedded control panel release: When PrinterLogic's dedicated release application is installed directly on the printer (our software supports almost every major hardware manufacturer), users can authenticate using their Active Directory credentials or with a user ID and numerical PIN. They can then select their job and print it out.
  • Badge/card reader release: Many organizations make use of ID badge or card authentication to secure their environment. In government agencies, this usually takes the form of a CAC/PIV card. PrinterLogic integrates seamlessly with both integrated and network-enabled badge/card readers to enable convenient secure release.
  • Browser-based release: Using this method, users can authenticate and release their pending secure print jobs via any device equipped with a browser, such as tablets, Chromebooks and netbooks. They simply navigate to PrinterLogic’s web-based release portal and select their jobs. For organizations without a dedicated authentication infrastructure, they can place one of these devices near the printer in kiosk mode to create a convenient release point.
  • Mobile app release: Android and iOS users now have the option to use PrinterLogic’s handy new mobile app to manage and release secure print jobs. This is another option that allows for secure authentication without the need to invest in additional infrastructure.

The advantage of secure pull printing is that it prevents sensitive and confidential documents from printing automatically. Sometimes users get distracted and forget their print jobs, or through human error they send jobs to the wrong printer. This practical approach to enterprise print security helps to ensure that end users retrieve their print job immediately after releasing it without complicating their print workflow. Physical documents therefore aren’t left sitting in the printer’s output tray for anyone to see or take.

Comprehensive enterprise print security is therefore vital, but with PrinterLogic it's easier, more cost-effective and far more user-friendly than you might think. Sign up today for a free 30-day trial of our enterprise print management software and put its secure printing services to the test in your own environment.

Jason Callahan
Jason Callahan
Jason is a Principle Product Owner at PrinterLogic with more than 20 years in the software industry. In that time, he’s led many key initiatives at companies like IHG, including data warehouse and advanced reporting systems, UI/UX modernization and optimization, and mobile application development and deployment. Jason enjoys managing complex environments where work and feedback from diverse teams must come together to form a cohesive finished product. Jason holds several certifications from SAFe (SA, PM/PO) and Scrum Alliance (CPO) and is fluent in the use of Jira, Confluence, TFS and AHA tracking and management systems. When not at work, Callahan enjoys exploring the great outdoors and diving into DIY projects.

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