Is print the ticking security time bomb?

Internet security

Is print the ticking security time bomb?

10:06 05 May in KYOCERA news

Internet security

Last year’s high profile data breaches at the likes of Talk Talk and Vodafone show just how important it is for organisations of all sizes to protect data. At the same time multi-function printers (MFPs) have become valuable assets in the workplace environment. But are they a security risk? Could the next headline-making data breach happen because of a poorly protected MFP? The answer is yes, which means IT departments must take steps to improve print security around MFPs.


A costly oversight

The good people at Quocirca research reckon that enterprises place a low priority on print security, despite over 60% admitting that they have experienced a print-related data breach. Those breaches can be costly too – in the UK the Ponemon Institute estimates that in 2013, the average organisational cost to a business suffering a data breach was £2.04m, up from £1.75m in the previous year.

As the lines between personal and professional use of technology blur, effective data security has never been more needed. Most businesses will safeguard their laptops, smartphones and tablets from external and internal threats but few pay the same strategic attention to protecting the print environment. Yet, that same Quocirca study highlighted that over 75% of enterprises surveyed said that print is critical or very important to their business activities.


Sophisticated data sponges

As today’s MFPs have evolved to become sophisticated document capture and processing hubs – they have also become data sponges. They have built in network connectivity, hard disk and memory storage, so exhibit many of the same security vulnerabilities as any networked device. Plus, to make matters worse, more users are sharing centralised MFP devices.

Yet, Quocirca’s study revealed that just 22% place a high priority on securing their print infrastructure. While financial and professional services sector consider print security a much higher priority, counterparts in the retail, manufacturing and the public sectors lag way behind.


Securing the print environment

After all of that negativity it’s time for some good news! It’s actually straightforward for organisations to look after print security. Here are a few of the more common ways:


User authentication. The most insecure MFP is one that allows anonymous usage. User authentication via pin code, smart card or even Bond-esque biometrics ensures only those who should see a document can print it out – no longer will potentially sensitive documents be left in a paper tray. It saves money too on duplicated print!


Data encryption. MFPs contain hard drives which cache scanned document images and printed documents. As a result, data encryption should be used to protect sensitive information.


KYOCERA Cloud Print. A security print solution, provides a secure way to print via Cloud services such as Google Cloud Print. Through integrating with user authentication solutions such as PaperCut, Equitrac and Safecom, Cloud Print enables both user authentication and single sign-on, meaning users can print from their Google Docs and Apps via the Cloud to any KYOCERA HyPAS enabled device quickly and securely.

By employing a few simple security measures, organisations can ensure they don’t end up becoming the next victim of a high-profile data breach – and the subject of the wrong kind of news headlines.

Austin Clark

Austin Clark
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