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Tips for Securing Your Multi-Function Printers

Your business likely has a plan in place to protect computers on your network from malware, viruses and data theft. Do you have similar protections on the office printer? Digital copiers, or multi-function printers (MFPs), have the same vulnerabilities as the computers your employees use. That means it’s possible for valuable and sensitive information to be leaked via an attack on the machine you use to print, copy, scan and fax. Both the physical and electronic access points on your multi-function printer need to be secured. Here are some basic steps to achieve that.User authenticationAny printer that allows anonymous use is inherently insecure. In the event of a data breach, it’s virtually impossible to track down the source. Anonymous use also opens the possibility of various other forms of abuse. Through the use of user authentication, however, activity is closely monitored and tracking and auditing options are made available.Encrypt dataYou wouldn’t send sensitive data through an email, but that same data is scanned, printed and faxed every day. While it may not be possible to stop this practice and continue to fulfill your daily duties, it is possible to encrypt the data being sent to and from your multi-function printer. This way, even in the event of a data breach, the information stolen can’t be easily accessed and read.Rule-based and Pull PrintingRule-based printing and pull printing protect documents when they’re printed by implementing additional protocols to the printing process. In pull printing, users must again authenticate at the device before their documents are released. The print job is not stored on the device prior to printing and no additional documents are printed except those specifically requested by the authenticated user. Rule-based printing establishes a similar system based on a set of rules that analyzes each print job and controls output based on how the job needs to be printed. In both cases, both the digital and physical documents are secured.Trusted destinationsEven with your digital copier properly secured and with authentication required, there are still potential holes in security that could allow data to be exposed. The destination of documents is equally important. Commonly, a device will allow documents to be scanned or faxed to an insecure destination. If the endpoint is insecure, it potentially undoes any efforts to secure your own printer. Devices that are configured to “scan-to-email” are particularly problematic.These steps towards security and privacy for your office’s multi-function printer don’t address every potential issue, but they do set a good foundation.

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