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What Is Secure Printing?

Security is an essential element of modern business, but not only in the physical sense of protecting property and employees. Safeguarding your data is just as critical. While many businesses dedicate substantial resources to protecting against threats such as ransomware, malware, malicious network intrusions and other web-based security risks, few take the time to turn that attention inward to threats that originate within the company.

How does your business protect data from unauthorized users? Not every employee has the credentials or clearance to see all the information under company control. Protecting documents with sensitive data, such as secure PDFs, may be straightforward while they remain within the digital environment—but what happens when an authorized staffer needs to print a controlled document?

Secure printing is an essential technology for business but a common afterthought. Understanding the need for a secure printing process and identifying the solutions that make it possible are critical steps to protect your business from the potential ramifications of poor control over privileged information.

In this article we will learn more about:

The Typical Printing Process Isn't Safe for Secure Data

Imagine an office that doesn't have any security procedures in place surrounding the printing process. Say for example that someone in HR needs to print a hard copy of an employee's personnel record. After finalizing the documents at their computer workstation, the HR employee sends the file straight to a printer, which completes the job.

The hard copy is ready right away—but it's sitting in the printer tray, possibly with several other items recently printed by other workers in the office. During the time it takes the HR staffer to go from their workspace to the printer, there's no telling how many unauthorized employees might see or even handle the sensitive paperwork. It's just as easy for someone to mistakenly collect the sensitive documents along with their own printed pages.

Without a reliable way to verify ownership and release jobs to print securely, it's simple to accidentally reveal sensitive or confidential business information to unauthorized users. That info could include important financial numbers, employee Social Security information, personal client data and other sensitive materials. With the large number of printers in operation today and the ongoing need to move between digital and hard copies, a secure approach to printing is essential.

Why Are Secure Printing Investments So Important?

Securing print jobs isn't just about keeping unauthorized employees from seeing information not intended for them. In many industries, it is a matter of compliance with the law. Consider a doctor's office, a large hospital, or a third-party provider of healthcare services: all these organizations have a legal duty under laws such as HIPAA to safeguard and protect personal information. Violations can carry hefty fines and complicate operational capabilities.

Developing and deploying a system that prevents unauthorized users from releasing print jobs or picking them up from the tray is vital. Keep your sensitive information where it belongs: in front of the individuals who created or required the document in the first place.

There's another benefit to consider: cost savings. How much unnecessary printing occurs in your organization? Think about the stacks of abandoned print jobs that lie forgotten or overlooked by the employees who issued them. With printing that requires users to authorize themselves and release each document for printing, there's no opportunity to leave materials sitting in the tray. Not only does that process reduce paper and toner costs by paring back on waste, but it could have the side effect of keeping staff more task-focused thanks to the seamless print workflow.

Key Types of Secure Printing

There are several different ways computers, printers and their servers can communicate to ensure that only authorized parties access information. A few of the most common:

  • Basic secure printing. The print job sits on the server or spooler for a specific printer until the user arrives and keys in a preset PIN. This PIN authorizes the user with the printer, which completes the job. With on-demand printing, secure papers don't linger in the tray.
  • Print-to-me functionality. In a “print-to-me” job, also called "find-me" or "follow-me" printing, all the printers on a network connect to the same physical or cloud server for print jobs. The authorized user can visit any device in their office, enter a code or swipe an ID card, and get their document to print at that workstation. Mobile-enabled software can also allow users to release jobs directly from a smartphone app.

In either case, business users gain an important way to exert greater control over the information that lies in hard copy form. With such solutions in place, your only other critical concern is ensuring that employees understand and follow these procedures.

Do Cloud Printing Solutions Enhance Document Security?

The answer to this question depends on the type of cloud service that you use. Not all services are the same—some offer cloud printing solutions but include security concerns that stretch beyond document access.

At every stage of your workplace’s processes, it's worth considering who you allow to access data. Cloud print and web page-based print solutions may be a thing of the past, but similar security concerns remain across multiple industries. Using iCloud to print documents, for example, doesn't provide a user with many options for secure printing.

Cloud print management is your key to improved security. Microsoft's Universal Print, paired with the Kofax ControlSuite connector for Universal Print, has built-in solutions that make it simple to release secure documents while ensuring that those documents never leave the safety net of the company's network.

Before its discontinuation in 2020, the Google cloud printer was a common tool in many workplaces running ChromeOS. Today, ControlSuite is a preferred solution. As a Google Chrome Enterprise Recommended partner that meets the highest performance standards, ControlSuite is optimized for ChromeOS. With easy-to-configure secure printing options, you can ensure that virtually any MFD in your office is a conduit for safe print operations.

Exploring Solutions Built for the Business of Tomorrow

It's clear that the secure printing is essential within your digital infrastructure. Where can you find the solutions you need to put best practices into place?

You won't need to look far. With so much attention on privacy and data security, there's no shortage of opportunities in this space. With innovative and streamlined solutions such as Kofax ControlSuite, businesses can leave discontinued solutions behind to deploy smarter and more capable cloud-enabled print solutions that include built-in tools for managing security. Whether your business runs fifty or five hundred printers throughout its offices, managing printing and automating security will be easier than ever.

A connected component of the larger Kofax Intelligent Automation Platform, ControlSuite and its family of content-aware capture, print management and document workflow automation tools represent an incredible value and an immediate opportunity to get your business working—and printing—like tomorrow.

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