Security and Stability: The two pillars of reliable printing
Printing a financial report, copying a new employee's contract or scanning a medical report – thousands of these actions take place daily without raising any red flag. With an antivirus installed on the computer, there’s nothing to be worried about, right?
While this might be mostly true, “just” printing (or copying, or scanning) several pages is not completely out of range of various security threats. Also, there are challenging situations “inside” a company that printing devices can face – such as power outage or data loss.
The aim of the following article is not to spook you, but rather to make you aware of some security and stability vulnerabilities your printer fleet might face and how to prevent them.
With printing security, matters go beyond the needs of fundamental PC and server protection. To make sure a company’s copy and scanning processes run fluently and safely, security measures need to be applied on the entire life cycle of the printing or scanning process. They should range all the way from Network security and encryption of the transmitted data, Web and App security to only allow authorized access to system accounts, Endpoint protection (i.e. securing the multifunction device the user interacts with) to ensuring confidentiality of the actual information in the document printed out or scanned. In simple terms, this means IT admins need to make sure that all communication between their printing solution, the user’s workstation and the endpoint printing device is protected. The same goes for the database and access to the printing server.
Many companies do not consider the fact that their employees send a great deal of unprotected data through printing, which can be a source of data leakage. Not having your printing device secure enough can easily mean it becomes a point of entry for a hacker attack. Once in your network, hackers can eavesdrop on your printer traffic and even capture the documents that are being sent to the printing machine.
However, not all threats can occur in the “digital space” – there are also various concerns regarding the printing hardware, be it a small printer or complex MFP. They both need their own “wall of defense”, as most of these devices have an internal hard drive which can store copy or scanning jobs. When stolen, it is possible to retrieve data from it. Also, if the printing device is not shielded by a password, someone can perform an unauthorized change of settings, which could result e.g. in relaying your printing job to a certain e-mail address. Last but not least, one of the biggest dangers printed documents can face is being picked up (stolen) by an unintended person after being printed without any authentication or simply left in the paper tray for too long.
Even though security is the concern number one, having secure printing doesn’t mean a company’s battle is over. At least not yet. There is one other significant area that influences the smooth operation of your printer fleet – stability. For only a secure printing solution that is also stable can assure a problem-free printing experience. When it comes to stability, those are the main concerns to think about:
- Availability – meaning there is a plan B in case of an unexpected event, which ensures the users will be able to continue using the printing services and not be blocked by server od device downtime.
- Scalability and performance – when the needs of your business change or grow together with your enterprise, you need to adapt your printing capacities to this new situation.
- The printing solution implemented at your business might get also held up back by bugs, obsolete components or missing training scheme, so reliability and flexibility play another important role.
- And eventually, if things go completely south, lacking the proper Backup & Recovery tools can not only mean a significant loss of data, but lengthy reinstallation as well.
How to avoid security weak points?
With the right tools at hand, these vulnerabilities can be taken care of rather easily. First, security issues:
- As for network protection, the key here is encrypted connection of the entire “user – printing server – device” path, so no unauthorized person can enter this stream of transmitted information.
- Another step would be to define printing roles, so users only have access to information they are entitled to (consider private printing for VIP users).
- To secure your hardware, equip your printing device with a proper terminal application, so it cannot be unlocked without login.
- To avoid an unwanted pick-up of documents, printing only after authorization at the copier is a must-have and can be even enhanced in some high-security areas (double authentication by ID card and password, for example).
- If the documents are confidential, it’s a good idea to mark them with a digital “stamp”, such as a watermark or digital signature.
How to avoid stability weak points?
As far as stability goes, a company should be able to print even in the event of losing connection to the print server. To that end you need a robust failover solution that ensures your printing services will be available until the server is back on. Get a proper failover Cluster that switches between active and passive servers to ensure fluent operation even in the case of server downtime.
To overcome obstacles blocking your company’s growth, it is useful to have a centralized server architecture, which is than divided into smaller parts and helps to add new units more easily and manage everything from one place.
If you are slowed down by overloading with files way too big to handle, try to make things easier for your server, e. g. by implementing a scan-to-link function.
Your printing solution should have regular releases to fix any ongoing bugs, and a partner portal, so the users or admins never get lost in the confusing digital jungle of all its possibilities and functions.
And finally, be prepared for the “worst” and have reliable backup tools at hand in case of a complete black-out.
Moving to the cloud?
Forward-thinking companies are moving their infrastructure to cloud platforms, getting rid of dependency on on-site computing solutions. This takes pressure off the IT staff and relieves the strain on budgets in terms of hardware maintenance, and this goes for printing servers too. Still, many companies are in an understandable doubt about transferring their service and content to public clouds for various security reasons.
The popular option here is to transfer systems to a private cloud that offers flexibility, scalability and security – like MS Azure, for example. Having MyQ installed in private cloud, you can safely enjoy all the functions and benefits of MyQ. MyQ also connects to Microsoft’s Universal Print service, which means users can submit documents for print remotely without VPN, for example from home office or business trips.
If you are looking for some serious muscle to keep your business’s printing protected and stable, MyQ might be the right choice. Our developers took in consideration all the printer fleet vulnerabilities listed above and created a tight-fitting solution to prevent and/or fix them. Features such as MyQ Easy Cluster, MyQ Central and Back-up Server, the MyQ Embedded Terminal, or Advanced Encryption make for a full and complete toolkit that will take care of your printing’s uninterrupted operation.
If you decide to transfer your infrastructure (even partly) into the cloud environment, MyQ can assist you on this new journey as well. Let MyQ take care of these two fundamental pillars of reliable print, scan and copy workflows and handle your documents in peace!