Managed print security is quickly becoming one of the most popular print solutions for businesses of every size. With advantages ranging from print optimization and cost-reduction to user access management and carbon-footprint-reduction, it makes sense for many organizations to make the switch. MPS also changes how organizations approach another crucial aspect of print, security.
While printers have historically been the weakest link in organizational security, MPS changes that. With dedicated IT teams, printer-focused security efforts, and a range of software and hardware solutions to meet the security needs of individual organizations, MPS can take printers from a huge data-security risk to as secure as any other element of your IT network.
Printer Hardware Security
Printer hardware is often a huge risk, especially when it can be physically accessed by anyone. Here, printers present risks from malicious employees, external hacking, accidental employee blunder/human error, and several other instances. An MPS provider will reduce these risks in several ways:
Securing Physical Hardware
Introducing solutions like secure print to prevent files from being left in print trays, securing printer access, locking access to configuration and administration panels, and reducing instances of open USB ports greatly increases hardware security. For example, individuals can’t accidentally infect a network by plugging an infected device into a printer. Someone can’t increase security risks by changing settings for their own benefit. And individuals can’t maliciously access the printer or load a virus or exploit onto it.
Offering basic employee training does a great deal to reduce instances of human-error related data security risks. If employees are aware of the risk of leaving files in printer trays, of leaving passcodes out, or of using their own insecure devices around sensitive files, they will take fewer risks.
If your organization needs security, your MPS will install devices that pose fewer security risks, either because they are more secure (software) or because they offer fewer exploits such as access ports or external controls.
Network security is a crucial element of printer security because hacks are one of the largest risks for organizations. Printers can be used to print files, host data storage for torrents and illegal files, used as part of botnets (they are computers), and to access networks and servers with malicious intent. In short, if someone hacks a printer on your network, they likely have access to everything else on the network.
Managed print services include network setup and security, which will typically include a private printer network and servers on a LAN (private network) and sometimes secured with a private IP address, so print networks cannot be accessed from outside the premises or without a VLAN. This is important because it means someone has to be on the premises to hack software, which greatly reduces risks.
User access management prevents external access to printers without a login, and allows the organization to track which users are printing which files as well as general print usage. This becomes especially valuable when combined with secure-print functionality (passcode or pin code user access to printer queue), because it means that the only person who can access a printer queue is the owner.
User access management also allows you to determine when someone prints files they shouldn’t have access to. Most importantly, user access settings can provide individuals with as much access and print permissions as they need. If someone only needs to print files from a specific computer at a specific quality, you can ensure that’s all they can do.
While user access management makes it easy to manage users on the system, it also allows you to take individuals off the system. If someone is fired, moves out of a contract or role, or otherwise no longer needs access to printers and servers, they can be removed.
Software Security Management
Modern printers are essentially computers with all of the same risks as a computer. An MPS will ensure that software security issues are managed and solved as quickly as possible to reduce risks and threat as much as possible.
Most printers come with basic firewalls but many aren’t even turned on. An MPS will manage security and risks, install a firewall, and often introduce some sort of real-time monitoring so that you know when an attack happens.
Printers often become security risks because they aren’t updated, patches intended to fix security issues aren’t installed, and hackers essentially have an easy way into software. An MPS will regularly update all printers on the network to reduce this risk. Most will install printers that can be updated remotely, meaning files will automatically download and install under IT supervision, so printers are always as secure as possible.
Most printers are configured in very standard ways, which makes it easy for hackers to gain access to software and administration panels. An MPS will re-configure printer access to make it harder to hack, may encrypt administrator accounts, and will ensure default access points are changed.
Special Access Management
An MPS provider will provide custom security solutions to meet specific organizational needs. This may extend to hardware, software, or access management depending on the situation. For example, if you handle sensitive data but have to frequently exchange devices, your MPS will ensure drives are shredded before they leave premises to prevent loss of sensitive data.
If a few individuals have extra security needs, the MPS may take additional precautions such as providing them with their own encrypted and secure printer, possibly on its own network and stronger user access management and rights.
Most organizations don’t have the resources or print specialization to manage the type of security managed print services include as a standard. If your organization handles any type of secure or sensitive information, such as HR documentation or payroll slips, managed print services could greatly improve data security by implementing processes that are standard in the industry.
Most importantly, an MPS provider can scale security standards and implementation to your organization and its risks, to provide maximum security with minimal cost and inconvenience to individuals using printers.