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Time to step up print security - Sunday Business Post

Time to step up print security - Sunday Business Post

Time to step up print security - Sunday Business Post
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Time to step up print security - Sunday Business Post

In advance of an Ergo workshop on protecting the print estate, we look at an area of security that is often neglected despite exposing organisations to serious threats. 

While a never-ending series of highprofile cyber attacks has encouraged businesses to take their security more seriously, it’s a concern for Ergo that their focus is rarely on printers and the print estate despite staggering statistics that highlight how vulnerable it has become.

“HP has calculated that less then 2 per cent of the hundreds of millions of printers in the world are secure,” said David Carthy, technical solutions manager in Ergo’s managed print division, “and we talk to organisations every day that have done nothing to lock them down.”

He shares other numbers that highlight the risks: 60 per cent of companies have had a data breach involving printers; 35 per cent of security breaches are related to print security deficiencies. “Businesses seem to have a blindspot with printers and fail to see them as networked devices. Just like servers, PCs and laptops, they need to be wrapped in levels of security,” said Carthy.

Ergo has been providing managed print solutions to some of the biggest organisations in Ireland for over 20 years, and locking down the environment has been a central part of the service. As the threats evolved, so too have the solutions.

Pull-print is now a standard part of the service, ensuring only the people who send a job to the printer can collect it. Not only does this protect confidentiality around sensitive data, it reduces waste from uncollected documents. The estate will also have been set up to ensure documents are encrypted before they arrive at the printer so the image only resides temporarily on its hard drive.

For the length of its contracts, Ergo uses real-time intrusion detection to monitor sites remotely and specialised software that makes sure security policies are implemented and adhered to on a day-to-day basis.

“We provide an attention to detail around security that you won’t get from other print providers,” said Carthy. “Sometimes this can be as simple as making sure the printer’s firmware is up to date.   We’ve inherited plenty of clients where this hasn’t been the case.”

Leading-edge technology

An Ergo managed print engagement typically starts with consolidation of the estate, replacing standalone hardware with multi-function devices (MFDs) that combine printing, copying, scanning and faxing. They bring benefits and challenges. Sensitive data from stored document images can be recovered and stolen; remote printing capabilities can bypass existing security protocols. Digitised documents can be sent anywhere with scan-to-email.

“Every device typically has over 250 settings, including ports and protocols that can become a vulnerability if they’re not properly managed,” said Carthy. “We carry out a thorough audit to ascertain   exactly what functionality and connectivity is needed. If you don’t need mobile printing, for example, we make sure it’s disabled.”

Ergo experts will compile an inventory of every device and harden each one to make sure it’s secure. They will analyse a company’s document services, looking for weak links in the workflow that might expose confidential data.

The good news is that Ergo deploys leading-edge MFDs that have increasing security features built in, BIOS and firmware that’s checked and validated every time the machine boots up. But it’s not just about the hardware. Ergo also gets involved in security policy-setting and user education. “Right now, we’re making sure that highly regulated businesses have the levels of data protection and security assurance they need for GDPR compliance,” said Carthy.

You don’t have to be a managed print client to avail of Ergo’s security services. The company offers standalone gold, silver and bronze support. Bronze is about locking down vulnerabilities; silver introduces remote monitoring, identifying and eradicating threats before they lead to a breach. Gold is print security-as-a-service with 24/7 cover that encompasses everything from policysetting to document encryption.

“We know that every organisation is at a different stage with print security which is why we offer a range of options. At whatever point we come in, we have a proven approach that always makes a difference,” said Carthy.

To learn more about how Ergo can help improve your print security, get in touch with us here.

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