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7 best practices for securing document imaging devices

March 29, 2017

It’s easy to see why printers and copiers are security risks. A treasure trove of confidential and sensitive information passes through them—and they’re connected to networks and used by lots of different people, making them prime targets for data breaches.

That’s why it’s so important that your customers take proactive measures to secure their printers and copiers and the data they store. Here are seven general guidelines you should recommend they follow:

1.) Purchase printers with security features built-in

More and more vendors, including Brothers, HP, and Lexmark, offer a variety of options to choose from.

2.) Make sure the devices are kept secure

  • Place printers and copiers in visible areas that are accessible to the majority
    of users rather than in separate rooms or offices where it’s more difficult to monitor them  
  • Earmark certain printers and copiers for sensitive documents and keep them in
     places where they’re primarily accessible to employees who use them.
  • Secure document imaging devices with locks that require physical keys—
     and disable physical ports to prevent unauthorized use.
  • Purchase printer technology that’s equipped with features that allow IT managers
     to control access privileges by requiring authentication and authorization (e.g., PIN
     authentication, LDAP authentication, smart cards).
  • Use password protection to control printer settings and prevent others from
        changing them without permission.

 

3.) Secure printer traffic on the network

  • Password protection isn’t foolproof. If the admin password is not encrypted, for example, it can be intercepted and unauthorized users can gain access to a printer’s controls—leaving the documents and the data on them vulnerable. This can be prevented by using an encrypted connection when accessing the administrative control panel. Many printers offer ACL (access control list) support that allows you to define who can use or administer it.
  • Disable Internet Printing Protocol (IPP), FTP print jobs and any other feature or function that might allow unauthorized users to print jobs over the internet.
  • If existing printers don’t support encryption, purchase additional hardware or software to enable this capability.

4.) Keep printers up to date

Update printer firmware and drivers as new versions become available—to ensure that printer technology has the latest security features and other features that can affect performance.

5.) Discard old printers properly

Scrub internal hard drives to remove any sensitive documents that may still be on them. The printer’s documentation should spell out how to do this. If not, consult the manufacturer.

6.) Protect the documents

It’s an all-too-common occurrence in companies today: unclaimed documents sit unattended on or near printer trays, just waiting to be viewed by prying eyes or taken by anyone who happens to walk by. To avoid this scenario, opt for printer technology that supports pull printing, which allows users to print to a secure network, authenticate themselves and then retrieve jobs as necessary.

7.) Monitor the print environment

Implementing tools and utilities that track, record and audit printing activity can help your customers identify those users who are abusing their printing privileges or ignoring company policies. It can also help them assess how to improve printing efficiencies, cut down on printing volume and save money.

Following these guidelines can help your customers create a safer environment for their printing resources and the valuable data they contain. In today’s world, businesses can never be too careful.