Most organizations print thousands of documents every year, many of which relate to secure data, private employee information, payment information, high-level business strategy, and goals. With everything from valuable and highly secret information to private data like payrolling being printed, printer and printer-network security is a high-priority for most.

A managed print service or MPS is one way to go to improve printer security across your organization, without investing heavily in creating and implementing strong security protocols on your own or investing in new hardware.

How important is print security? Many organizations such as health and medical have extremely strict compliance regulation surrounding print-security. For example, HIPPAA compliance mandates that you cannot leave print-files unsecured and ready for print. While not all industries have compliance requirements, maintaining printer security can also help to protect business secrets and strategy by limiting access to important documents.

What is MPS?

Managed Print Services are a series of services typically including hardware, software, and long-term management of both plus servers. This means that an MPS vendor will review your specific business needs, install hardware across the organization, manage print networks, manage servers, manage security, and manage users.

With software in place to monitor usage and costs, MPS vendors function to reduce costs. They also integrate large-scale firewalls and security protocols, developed by an organization specializing in print. Most MPS provide long-term IT and security support, re-supply ink and paper, and work to optimize printer networks and hardware over time.

How Does MPS Improve Security?

Most printer network security issues happen because organizations don’t have the time, budget, or manpower to focus on security. Here, lack of protocols, organizations not following protocols, and lack of budget to implement more-secure hardware and software often results in leaks and data-risks. MPS naturally fill these holes by providing strong security protocols and software.

Firewall

Printer firewalls are important to prevent hacks and external leaks, but many businesses simply do not have them. When they do, they often aren’t updated frequently enough, and eventually pose risks to the organization. Most MPS will include a strong firewall solution which will likely include management, automatic updates to install new security protocols, and limited access from external devices.

Secure Network

Your print-network can be an on-premises or a cloud server (or hybrid solution) but should be complete secure. This means installing user-access management, network management, and strong controls at every level of the network. Here, a good network will limit who can access which printers, will provide individual user accounts, and will assign security codes for print for each individual item.

While this type of security is not needed or valuable in every business environment, it’s important that you be able to install it when needed. Here, an MPS will help a great deal by reviewing your office needs by department and creating network security levels that match the needs of the team, while balancing costs and time-expenditure for those teams. For example, if most of your organization does not benefit from strong security protocols, but some departments such as finance and payrolling do, your MPS could integrate security protocols for those departments while implementing lighter security elsewhere.

Secure-Print Hardware

Installing printers with security protocols including pin-code protection can greatly increase security across your printer network. Access management in hardware can also include user access through typed or scanned usernames, badge access, and other security protocols, so you can limit file access to specific owners, teams, or individuals. This is especially useful in instances where an individual might need printer-access across several offices or networks, but who is typically working with secure or private files.

Access management and pull printing are requirements for many types of printer-security compliance, and an MPS will provide it when and where needed. Not every office needs device access management, but it does prevent documents from being left at a printer, from being pulled by someone else, and from being accessed from a general print-queue by non-authorized individuals.

Automatic Software Updates

Out-of-date printer, network, and server software is often a huge security risk. Working through an MPS vendor means this won’t happen, as the MPS will automatically push updates, keep security protocols up-to-date, and manage updates across your entire network. This will also help you to maintain compliance, especially in industries such as finance and health.

Implementing MPS

While implementing managed print services is relatively easy in that your vendor will do most or all of the work, you will have to choose a vendor that makes sense for your organization.

For example, some MPS vendors specialize in different industries, offer different types of service (Such as cloud or on-premise), or offer different rates and packages. In most cases, you want a plan that offers scalability, software and hardware updates, and a significant review of your initial print and security needs. Most MPS should offer usage and security assessments, ongoing security management, and ongoing optimization with the intent or reducing risks and costs over time, but it is important to verify this before making a choice.

Print security is becoming increasingly important, especially as organizations move to cloud and online print networks. New technology means that printers have access to servers and databases, which increases security risks. Implementing security standards and protocols, including access management, firewalls, and database passwords is important if you want to maintain compliance, protect confidential and private data, and restrict access to private information.

At the same time, implementing those standards, which typically require software and hardware updates, is often difficult and expensive because it involves a great deal of investment, implementing new protocols, and hiring on IT staff to manage print security. Implementing managed print services makes the process faster in that the vendor will already have the technology and hardware needed for implementation. MPS also reduces upfront costs in that you don’t have to invest in hardware and software upfront, but rather pay a monthly fee for continuous service, new updates, and new hardware.

Managed print services offer a lot of advantages in terms of security and compliance, which can greatly help your organization achieve printer-security goals.