The Expert's Guide to End-to-End Print Security

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Modern office printers have hard drives, operating systems and memory just like PCs, and they connect directly to the internet, share data with cloud services and send faxes. Without the right security settings, hackers could gain a backdoor into your corporate network and IP address.

Knowing how to secure printers against hackers and cyberthreats isn’t always easy for technology professionals. Mobile devices, cloud computing, wireless printers, remote workers, AI and the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) pose security challenges from multiple channels.

Securing print devices from the moment someone presses print until they pick up their documents is critical for many industries. And while there are many tactics to ensure print security, they all boil down to three overarching areas that need to be addressed.

  1. Before Printing: Secure the Print Network
  2. During Printing: Secure Print Workflows
  3. After Printing: Secure Printed Output  

1. Before Printing: Secure the Print Network

The first step to securing a print network is to apply user access permissions. These permissions either allow or block access to certain features of the devices on the network. For example, your business may want to give part time employees different access than full time employees.

Printer network security is best accomplished through the use of print management software like uniFLOW or PaperCut. These systems are compatible with multiple brands, operating systems and applications. The software encrypts data and has incredible reporting capabilities to enhance compliance and audit trails for highly regulated industries like healthcare and education (HIPAA and FERPA). Detailed reporting shows who printed what, when and where.


A secure printing solution should also provide protection with security features like SSL encryption, secure FTP and IPsec. This includes updating default passwords from their factory settings with strong passwords, performing security patches and software updates and using the latest printer firmware.

A layered approach to print security helps to ensure that sensitive data is not kept in the device’s internal system and that printers are not compromised by hackers. Gordon Flesch Company can perform these installations and remotely update systems so you never have to worry about it.

2. During Printing: Secure Print Workflows

Maintaining control and visibility of all network users is vital when connecting business systems. Gordon Flesch Company deploys a secure print release queue to provide end users the ability to print from a central secure (follow-me) print network. Once a job is printed, authentication is required to release the print job.

It works like this:

  • Print to a single, secure input queue configured on your device or workstation
  • Walk to any connected multifunction printer (MFP) and identify yourself on the machine with a card reader, badge, PIN or other approved method
  • For a higher level of security, initiate two-factor authentication
  • Select the desired print job from the print queue
  • Release the specified job at the MFP and the job is printed

If a machine is being used or is not accessible for any reason, users can simply go to another machine and collect their print job there. Most importantly, they never have to worry about someone else grabbing a print job off the printer since the other person won’t be able to authenticate themselves.

If you aren’t used to this level of printer security, it might sound complicated, but it’s not. While secure printing locks down devices, the process is simple and can make everyone’s jobs better and more efficient.

3. After Printing: Secure Printed Output

Robust software, authentication, encryption and security updates are all critical. What’s just as important, however, is ensuring your internal team is following proper print protocols and ensuring internal security measures like access controls and data protection.

Organizations must also take into consideration a printer’s proximity and physical security. If your office handles sensitive medical or financial records, place the printer in a location where only authorized people can gain access. You may want to consider video surveillance or access control systems.

You can also adopt special output trays and locking paper cassettes that keep high-priority printed documents and paper stock separated and protected. Additionally, create and communicate print policies that include protocols for not throwing sensitive information in the recycling bin and how to handle unclaimed print jobs.

Print management software can further enhance output security by printing pages with watermarks and digital signatures. Administrators can also review past print jobs through a browser and control archived content.

Cost Benefits of Print Security

One clear benefit of a secure managed print program is the elimination of unclaimed print jobs. Piles of paper that never get retrieved by the owner will increase print costs for your organization. Having a solution in place to eliminate this waste can save companies thousands in their budgets.

One example is Cardinal Stritch University. Their team wanted to lower costs, reduce waste and encourage the staff and students to print less. To achieve these goals, Gordon Flesch Company’s business analysts put secure printing controls in place. Using PaperCut print management software and our just-in-time toner delivery, the University uses 20% less toner, paper and supplies than it did before.

Managing and securing your print environment can have a big impact on the protection of your business’s data and on your bottom line. Get our Quick Guide to Print Security guide below for additional insights and tips. For personalized guidance on which security measures can be implemented to protect your offices, or help with managing your printer network, ask about Gordon Flesch Company’s Managed Print Service (MPS) program. We’ll help you manage all aspects of your business printing devices.

Contact us today for a free assessment.

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