Securing your business data: A quick guide for prioritising print security

December 12, 2023

As office printers become more sophisticated, the tactics used by cybercriminals do too. For hybrid workers and flexible teams, features like Wi-Fi connectivity, mobile printing, and access to cloud services provide the flexibility and connectivity required to manage the endless streams of business data flowing through their organisation. However, they can also pose a risk to businesses by leaving them vulnerable to data breaches, cyber threats and malicious attacks.

Not sure whether your print devices are posing a threat to your business security? Keep reading to find out how you can strengthen your data defences.

Why is print security neglected?

Print security is often an afterthought for businesses. It’s easy to forget that multifunctional printers (MFPs) are hugely sophisticated devices, with microcomputers that are capable of handling, processing, and monitoring huge amounts of data. With internet connection and innovative embedded software, they are capable of much more than the basic network peripheral they once were. The problem is, while some organisations have yet to recognise the potential risk to these essential business tools, hackers have already caught on.

Cybercriminals will look for weak links and entry points within your network to exploit. From the complex interception of unencrypted print jobs, to the more basic human-error of leaving printed documents at the device, there are a few ways that your MFP could be used to gain access confidential data.

Hacker or slacker?

Not all data breaches are external or deliberate; they can be internal and completely accidental, but the consequences are often the same. In monetary terms, the average cost of data breach incidents for UK organisations in 2023 was £3.4m.

For example, if an employee were to scan a document on an MFP and email this directly to an external source via the printer itself, it would not undergo the standard email security scans, audits, and procedures that would flag or block sensitive documents from being sent outside of the business. While this may not always result in malicious activity, the data has ‘left the building’ and carries the same risk. Fortunately, Toshiba devices can be configured to prevent this type of incident from happening.

Having high-level security features on your print fleet will take the pressure off your wider security ecosystem – the weaker it is, the stronger your other defences, policies and procedures must be.

The solution

While frequent training is prudent to ensure that employees are up-to-date with security best practices, the best protection involves a combination of secure print solutions, to ensure that neither network data nor printed documents fall into the wrong hands.

A multi-layered solution means having security in place at hardware and software level.

Hardware-level security:

  • On Toshiba devices, Trusted Platform Module 2.0 (TPM 2.0) provides hardware-level protection for hard drive data stored on the MFP. TPM 2.0 is a security chip on the machine’s motherboard, which secures and encrypts data with a unique encrypted key. Since part of this cryptographic key is stored on the module chip and not within the SSD/HDD, any attempts to physically remove the drives and extract information will be futile.
  • User access to device functions, including copying, scanning, and printing, can be authenticated by Biometric, Password, PIN or ID Card directly at the device, limiting access to only those who are authorised. Documents can only be released at the printer by their owner, preventing abandoned printouts.
  • Domain Name System (DNS) security can safeguard against threats arising at network level. Layered security can also protect your IT systems from network-level threats and data breaches.
  • Anti-malware protects against malicious scripts being run on the device.


Software-level security:

  • Print software adds an extra layer of protection to any hardware-level security. Apps such as Toshiba’s e-FOLLOW.cloud or PaperCut Hive allow users to better control, manage, monitor, and enable print usage, with the added benefit of built-in security features. Functionalities like secure print release, digital signatures, rule-based access control, and end-to-end encryption help to ensure compliance and maximum security for all your data.

The challenges

Maintaining the security of networks, devices, and software is a complex and ongoing process, and print infrastructures come with their own set of challenges:

  • A diverse printer fleet that may include multiple brands, legacy devices, and a patchwork of software and drivers, can be challenging to secure.
  • The risk is exacerbated in today’s distributed hybrid work environments, where feature-rich MFPs are shared between many users, often in co-working spaces with multiple companies or by employees working remotely outside of company-controlled locations.
  • A multi-vendor environment may not incorporate consistent security controls, and a fragmented approach to cloud printing may create further security risks around access and authentication.

What can businesses do to improve print security?

  • Consider upgrading your print fleet. Older devices will likely have outdated hardware-level security, weakening your multi-layer protection.
  • Aim for a single vendor for your print fleet. Security credentials and functions are likely to be similar across all devices, with a consistent standard of compliance.
  • Opt for a Managed Print Service to manage your print infrastructure. At Toshiba, we audit your current fleet and make recommendations for rationalisation and optimisation, to remove any complexity from your infrastructure. The more streamlined it is, the simpler it will be to manage its security. Then, we implement and integrate new devices, maintain their operation, monitor risk, and ensure your print fleet is meeting your business requirements and security standards.
  • Opt for a Managed IT Service to audit your security provisions to ensure they are up to date and compliant, identifying and patching any vulnerabilities.
  • Implement print software for multi-layered print security and greater flexibility for users.
  • Consider moving from on-premise to cloud-based solutions such as e-FOLLOW.cloud, to ensure software is consistently up-to-date.

 

Not sure whether your print security is up to scratch?

Don’t take chances with your business data. Put print security back on the priority list and get in touch to find out more about how Toshiba can help.

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