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How Can We Ensure The Security Of Our Data When Using Multi-Function & Digital Printers?

Data security should be a primary concern for your organization. You must establish strict policies to protect the confidential information that’s stored, processed and transmitted across your business environment. This includes when using your Digital and Multi-Function Printers (MFPs).

What Do We Need To Know About MFP & Digital Printer Security?

Today’s generation of networked multifunction devices are “smart” machines that are used for more than just copying. They can do everything from copying, printing, scanning, faxing to emailing documents. To do this, they require hard disk drives to manage incoming jobs and workloads, and to increase the speed of production.

These hard drives use embedded firmware to communicate with other systems on a network. They are exposed to the same security vulnerabilities that a computer is. Without proper security measures in place, the MFP can pose a significant risk of sensitive information exposure. If you don’t take steps to protect this data, it can be stolen from the hard drive either by remote access or by extracting the information once the drive has been removed.

What Regulations Require MFP Security?

Networked Multi-Function Printers are now commonplace in the workplace environment to print, scan and fax documents over a network. To prevent damaging data breaches, you must control and protect both the physical and electronic access points on your MFPs and Digital Printers.

Depending on the information you store, transmit or receive you may also need to comply with specific regulations like HIPAA if you work in healthcare, or Gramm-Leach-Biley if you work in a financial institution. For example, you may be required to follow The Disposal Rule which requires you to properly dispose of any confidential information stored on your MFP, just like you must with your computers.

How Should MFPs & Digital Printers Be Designed For Security?

The manufacturer and print solutions provider should apply appropriate security countermeasures concerning the different phases in the product development lifecycle of planning, development, evaluation, production and sales.

  • In the planning phase, the manufacturer should continuously check for the newest security trends, vulnerability information, and extract and analyze security requirements.
  • In the development phase, they should develop security functions for you to use their products in a more secure way.
  • In the evaluation phase, their products should be passed through internal evaluation, and also objective security evaluations by third-party laboratories.
  • In the production phase, they should establish a secure environment and ensure secure production by strictly following an operation process manual that enables them to perform precise operations.

They should also be developing MFPs and Digital Printers that comply with the Common Criteria international security standard (ISO/IEC 15408), are certified under IEEE 2600.1, and Federal Information Processing Standard, FIPS 140-2 so you’ll have the assurance you need that your devices are designed for security.

What Should We Look For In A Print Solutions Company?

Choose a print solution provider who provides rigorous protection of your important business and personal information–one that monitors the newest security trends and legal requirements for your business. Their first priority should be to provide rigorous protection of your important business and personal information. In addition, they should always monitor the newest security trends and legal requirements for your organization. For example, the significant changes in the European Union’s data privacy regulations that took place on May 25, 2018, should be addressed.

What Steps Can We Take To Protect Our Data When Using MFPs?

The following are 12 steps that you can take to secure your MFP and close security gaps that could result in a data breach. By adopting these practices, you can minimize the risk of data exposure.

1. Authenticate all users of MFPs and Digital Printers. You should not allow anonymous usage because it makes tracing the source of a data breach impossible. Authenticate your users to enable reporting, tracking and auditing of their activities when using your MFP devices.

2. Restrict access to MFPs and Digital Printers based on user authentication. Not every authenticated user will need access to every function on your MFPs and Digital Printers. Provide access on a need-to-use basis according to the business functions they need to perform.

3. Make sure all data going to and from MFPs and Digital Printers is encrypted. Encryption scrambles the data on the hard drive so it can be read by only particular software. Digital printers and MFPs that offer encryption encode the data stored on the hard drive so it can’t be retrieved even if the hard drive is removed from the machine.

4. Overwrite data for an additional layer of security. This is also known as file wiping or shredding. By overwriting the disk space that the file occupied, its traces are removed, and the file can’t be reconstructed as easily. Overwriting is different than deleting or reformatting. Deleting data or reformatting the hard drive doesn’t actually alter or remove the data, but alters how the hard drive finds the data and combines it to make files. When you merely delete data, it still remains and may be recovered through a variety of utility software programs. Depending on the MFP, the overwriting feature may allow you to overwrite after every job run, or periodically. This cleans out the memory on a preset schedule.

5. Lock the hard drive with a passcode. When you do this, the data is protected, even if the hard drive is removed from the MFP or Digital Printer.

6. Centrally audit all network activity. Many compliance security regulations require that you implement procedures to regularly review records of information system activity. This means viewing audit logs, access reports and security incident tracking reports. Your MFP should provide a centrally built audit trail of all copying, printing, scanning, emailing and faxing activity to bring it into compliance.

7. Use rules-based printing. Rules-based printing controls MFP and Digital Printer output by analyzing print jobs before they are released. It’s based on a set of established rules, to determine how and what’s processed.

8. Use pull printing. This is where users must authenticate at the device before documents are released. The device will only process those documents that are associated with the user. It also keeps the print job from being stored on the MFP or Digital Printer before printing.

9. Control and monitor all PII activity. Most organizations have policies in place to protect personally identifiable information (PII). If yours does, you should use security software to systematically enforce these PII policies. Unless you do so, you’re at the mercy of employees who must manually follow protocol, which can leave room for error and data breaches.

10. Enforce only trusted destinations.  Make sure your MFPs and Digital Printers are configured to prevent documents from being scanned or faxed to destinations that risk data exposure. Some MFPs provide “scan-to-email” and outbound analog faxing. Without proper controls in place to validate the email address or fax number of the recipient, your data security could be at risk.

11. Standardize configurations. If you have more than one MFP/Digital Printer, make sure that they are set up the same way. Sometimes each MFP is manually mapped to a network file share with no standardization throughout the organization. With standardization, you can centrally control operations.

12. Secure all print processes. To prevent damaging data breaches, you must control and protect both the physical and electronic access points on your MFPs and Digital Printers. Failing to do so can result in data breaches that result in costly penalties and litigation.

What Should Our Print Solutions Provider Do To Help Us Promote Data Security?

Make sure your print solutions company puts a strong and focused effort into developing functions that will provide more security when using their MFPs and Digital Printers. They should also assist you in implementing the 12 steps above.