Network-connected printers and multifunction printers (MFPs) might seem like innocuous pieces of office equipment but they’re actually a security risk organizations often overlook.

Unprotected printers can be entry points for hackers to infiltrate an organization’s IT infrastructure and access confidential information. If a print job is intercepted in this way, sensitive information could be at risk of exposure. In fact, in 2022, the CyberNews security team hijacked nearly 28,000 printers around the world and forced the devices to print out a guide on how to secure a printer to raise awareness of this issue. Yet printers remain an attractive entry point for hackers.

Even without an attack from a bad actor, non-secure MFPs introduce other challenges for organizations. Releasing a print job to the wrong person or leaving confidential print-outs on an MFP can give users unauthorized access to sensitive information, raising major compliance concerns.

Clearly, organizations need secure print solutions to safeguard against unauthorized access—whether malicious or accidental—and maintain data integrity and regulatory compliance by providing print logs in case of an audit.


What is secure printing?


Secure printing is a method of protecting sensitive information (like protected health information, consumer financial information, HR personnel files and intellectual property, or trade secrets) by ensuring documents are only released to authorized users via authentication measures at the printer. Instead of leaving sensitive documents in the printer tray, secure printing makes them accessible only after successful verification of the user's credentials, reducing the chances of unauthorized access.

Traditional printing setups can expose organizations to security vulnerabilities, including unauthorized access to printed materials, potential data breaches and network attacks. But secure print solutions enhance data protection and streamline compliance without disrupting employee workflows.


Why is secure printing important?


By requiring authentication at the printer, organizations can significantly reduce the likelihood of information leakage, protect confidential data from unauthorized users and build a robust defense against potential security breaches.

In 2023, 61% of organizations experienced data losses related to unsecured printing practices. As ransomware attacks and data breaches continue to rise, solutions that protect print devices have become a business requirement, especially for organizations concerned with maintaining government regulatory compliance.

Beyond security benefits, secure print solutions increase IT and employee efficiencies, reduce paper waste to help companies reach sustainability goals and improve cost savings by preventing unnecessary printing. They also provide comprehensive audit trails that track who printed what (and when) to support compliance with company policies, audits and regulatory mandates.


Key features of a secure print solution


Implementing secure printing is a critical yet often overlooked element of protecting your organization and its sensitive information from data breaches and cybersecurity threats. When identifying the right solution for your organization, consider one that unlocks the following capabilities:


1. User-friendly and secure access


Passwords and PINs can be easily forgotten, shared or phished. This can undermine network security and lead to frequent password resets and lockouts, causing employee frustration and productivity loss. Even in the best case, requiring employees to type in PINs to release print jobs adds a time-consuming extra step. But with identity and access management solutions like credential readers, you can boost security without impeding workflows. A tap-and-go solution like a WAVE ID® reader enables frictionless authentication so your employees can access printers quickly and efficiently, without compromising security or convenience.


2. Seamless integrations


The seamless integration of new authentication solutions with existing printer technology is key to improved productivity and operational efficiency. WAVE ID® readers integrate easily with an organization’s new and existing printer fleets as well as any existing physical access control systems and security infrastructure. For example, rf IDEAS integrates with the top OEM print partners including HP, Ricoh, Canon/NT-Ware, Xerox and Toshiba, and has established relationships with print management providers like MyQ, PaperCut, Pharos, Printer Logic and more.


3. Regulatory compliance across industries



Each industry has its unique printing and compliance requirements. For example, in the financial industry where adhering to regulations like the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act is critical, secure print solutions help meet those requirements while stopping highly sensitive documents and personal information from falling into the wrong hands. Additionally, meeting HIPAA compliance is augmented by the use of secure print and other print management features like print logs. Mobile readers such as WAVE ID® SP Plus can address the specific compliance needs of various industries, from healthcare and government to education and manufacturing.


Strengthen your cybersecurity posture with secure printing


Don’t let unsecured printers become your organization’s fatal flaw. Instead, adopt secure print solutions to safeguard sensitive information, ensure compliance with regulatory standards and streamline workflows. rf IDEAS can help you strengthen your cybersecurity posture by integrating advanced authentication methods for secure printing.

Download our print management brochure to learn more about how rf IDEAS can protect your sensitive documents.

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