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How to Make Sure Your Printed Documents Are Secure

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There’s a problem with printers: once a document has been printed, there is no form of physical security to stop an unintended party from taking the document. And for a machine that produces so many sensitive documents, this is honestly an oversight.

However, employing a bouncer or bodyguard for your printer is a cost most organizations can’t absorb — or let alone, deal with the ensuing HR complaints.

Luckily, output management software like uniFLOW or PaperCut provide secure printing solutions.

WHAT IS SECURE PRINT?

If you’ve ever heard of mobile printing, you’re already familiar with the concept of secure print. However, there are many more methods of implementing secure print than mobile print. Secure print is, specifically, a solution that adds an extra but critical step to the printing process: user authentication.

Imagine you’re sitting at your desk, and you need to print a sensitive document, like HR paperwork that displays an employee’s personal identifying information. Without a secure print solution, once you’ve hit the “print” button on your laptop, the document is released for print.

It doesn’t matter how far away you are from the printer, if there are other employees currently at the printer, or even if the printer isn’t able to print currently. Without secure print, that document is in the printer’s queue, and once it can print, it will.

This can lead to a myriad of bad situations, such as: an employee accidentally (or purposefully) viewing a sensitive document, a sensitive document mistakingly being thrown away, or the person who printed the document being forced to frantically search for paper to refill a tray, so that way when the printer can actually print, the document doesn’t automatically start printing because it was stuck in the queue.

Essentially, it’s an uncontrolled mess.

With secure print, the employee would press “print,” casually walk to the printer, and then scan a card, or input a code, or even use their smartphone to release the document, and then pick up the job after it’s done printing. Some secure print solutions even support features that will prevent a document from being sent to a printer that can’t currently print, such as if there is a paper jam, or it is out of paper.

Secure print can be implemented using the following methods:

  • PINs for each employee
  • RFID cards
  • Smartphones
  • Username & password

While all of these options have their own pros and cons, they all accomplish the same thing: ensure your printed documents are secure, and are only seen by those who were intended to see them.

HOW DO I IMPLEMENT SECURE PRINT IN MY ORGANIZATION?

As stated above, output management software like PaperCut, or Canon’s uniFLOW will offer secure print services. There are a few considerations you’ll want to keep in mind:

  1. Make sure that your hardware (your copier) will support your chosen output management software, as well as your method for inputing credentials.
  2. If you plan on using smartphones to release print jobs, it is a good idea to supply your staff with company phones to minimize the risk of a compromised device connecting to your network.
  3. Make sure to train your employees before implementing the change — adding an extra step to the printing process can be an unexpected and unwelcome surprise if there is no forewarning.

Secure print can be set up as a global practice, for certain departments, specific employees, or even for specific copiers, so take into consideration who in your organization stands to truly benefit from secure print before implementing it.

THE IMPACT OF SECURE PRINT

While secure print will make printing sensitive documents a much less-stressful activity, the true benefit is having access to a reliable chain of custody for every document that is printed in your organization. For any office that works in a regulated industry, must protect the privacy of their clients, or faces tough competition, secure print services are an absolute must.

To learn more about output management, visit How Can Print Management Help Me Manage My Remote Printer Fleet?

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