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What is Secure Print?

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If you were to open up a document and press the print button right now, what would happen? Would you know for certain which printer it was sent to? Would it print using the properties of the document, or using global policies designed to reduce waste? Would there be any way to stop someone from walking to the printer before you and snatching up a potentially confidential document?

Most likely, the answer to these questions lie somewhere between “I don’t know,” and “Probably not.” And that is okay.

There’s nothing wrong with not having control over your office’s print environment. It’s undeniably better to have the ability to measure and manage it, however.

SECURE PRINT & PRINT MANAGEMENT - HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

One of the most popular reasons organizations stay away from print management is it’s just an additional cost on top of their already expensive print costs.

According to print management experts PaperCut, print is the third highest controllable cost for organizations, coming in after payroll and real estate. The problem is, most organizations are aware of this, because they have no way to manage and measure their printing, copying, and scanning usage.

On average, an organization can expect to save 10-20% on printing costs by utilizing print management and secure print software. To find out your organization’s savings potential, use PaperCut’s ROI Calculator.

To learn more about print management, read our blog, What Is Managed Print Services? If you’d like to learn about Mobile Printing, read our blog, Mobile Printing and Authentication.

HOW DOES SECURE PRINT WORK?

Secure print, at its most basic level, adds a layer of verification and authentication to the printing process. 

In practice, secure print utilizes one of four different verification methods to manage the release of print jobs:

  1. Smartphone App or QR code
  2. Control panel (your copier’s input screen)
  3. RFID (Badge Reader)
  4. Browser Application

It is up to your organization to determine which of these four secure print options you’d like to use. Below, you’ll find descriptions of what impact each method of authorizing and releasing print jobs will have on your office environment.

Smartphones: When using a smartphone to release print jobs, each employee will need access to a smartphone that is able to run the application provided by your chosen secure print solution. After pressing the “Print” button on their workstation, the employee will then walk to the copier. When they reach a close proximity to the copier, their smartphone app will give them an option to release the print job.

If an app isn’t a viable option for your organization, some secure print solutions are compatible with QR codes. Your QR code can be printed on a sticker which is placed next to the control panel of your copier. When scanned, this can replace the print release button used by secure print apps.

If you go the smartphone route, it’s recommended that you supply your employees with a business phone. Unsecured personal devices can carry viruses onto your network, completely invalidating the extra layer of security offered by secure print.

Control Panel: Using a control panel to release secure print jobs is probably the slowest option out of the four presented here, but it does boast the simplest implementation process, and the smallest footprint on your tech stack. 

If you’re familiar with account codes, secure print’s method of releasing print jobs via the control panel is practically identical. Rather than using department account codes, however, each employee is assigned a PIN, which they must input on the control panel of the copier before the print job will begin to release.

For many organizations, this option works just fine. But for larger, more fast-paced organizations, inputing a PIN on a control panel can cause a bottleneck in printing, copying, and scanning operations.

RFID Badge Reader: Many copiers today can be equipped with an RFID (Radio Frequency ID) reader for a small upcharge. This is the technology modern keycards use to send ID data between the card and the scanner — when you see someone with a security badge hold up a keycard to a black box next to a door — that’s RFID.

Badge readers require two pieces of hardware infrastructure: a card reader, and a badge for each employee who needs to access the printer. There’s both pros and cons for this option — namely that its a simple and fast process to release print jobs once the RFID system is set up, but that infrastructure such as this requires 100% compliance, and has a higher set up cost than most of these options (unless you’re purchasing smartphones for each employee.) Keep in mind — if your organization already uses key cards or security badges, these can function as badges for secure print release as well.

Browser Application: Out of all options listed, this is the least impactful on your tech stack. Many secure print solutions offer the option of using a web-based browser application to release print jobs securely. 

A browser-based app works just like a regular app — except for the fact that they work on any device with an internet connection, a keyboard, and a screen. This means that an employee could theoretically push the “print” button on their computer, and then release it on that same computer. This can lead to issues where print jobs are being released before the employee is near the copier.

This, obviously, invalidates the whole point of secure print — and it’s best to use this option as a last resort, or if you need to set up secure print as soon as possible.

SECURE PRINT IS EFFICIENT, PROFITABLE, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, SECURE

If you’re looking for a solution that reduces your print waste, gives you the ability to measure and manage your print usage, and adds to your security and compliancy, secure print options like PaperCut, uniFLOW, or PrinterLogic can help you do all of these and more.

To learn more about how Cobb can help you manage your print environment, check out a recording of of live event, Getting a Handle on Print Costs with uniFLOW: A Case Study.

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