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Get Help to Protect Your Print Environment

A managed print services solution can minimize security threats associated with printers.

There’s a hidden threat lurking inside the firewalls of nearly every organization. This threat is a node on the network; it often carries a large processor; it handles images and confidential data; and — according to Ed Wingate, vice president and general manager for JetAdvantage Solutions at HP — it’s nearly invisible.

“Nobody’s watching the printer,” Wingate says.

While cybersecurity discussions tend to focus on endpoints such as laptops and mobile devices, organizations cannot afford to overlook the security needs of printers and multifunction devices. Not only do they process and often store sensitive data, but also their primary function is to create physical copies of this information. Without visibility into printers, along with security tools and policies to safeguard these devices, organizations leave themselves open to attacks and breaches that could affect their network health, waste IT resources and jeopardize compliance with industry and government data regulations.

Numerous organizations have turned to managed print services (MPS) providers to manage their print infrastructure. These partners maintain equipment, refresh supplies and often help to cut costs by implementing and enforcing policies that reduce waste. But MPS providers can also help organizations to secure their environments by monitoring device health, pushing out updates and patches, and implementing access control measures that contribute to organizations’ overall security strategies.

“Once attackers get to that printer, they can potentially get to a lot of other things on a customer’s network,” says Nicole Heinsler, chief engineer in the Managed Document Services group at Xerox.

“Print security is an often overlooked area that is extremely important,” adds Ted Dezvane, senior vice president for Managed Document Services at Xerox. “It’s something we take very seriously. It’s a very important thing for organizations of all sizes to focus on and, frankly, to get help with. There’s a knowledge gap, and we do this every day.”

Patching and Updating

Printers and multifunction devices need regular updates and patches, just as computers and mobile devices do. An MPS partner can check for firmware updates on all print devices and push them out remotely, helping to patch known security vulnerabilities and, in some cases, giving organizations access to improved security features.

Without MPS, many organizations often delay patching and updating for printers, or forget about it entirely. “If you don’t have MPS, you probably don’t even have a complete list of assets on the network,” says Wingate. “If you were to ask someone who does not have MPS how often they upgrade their firmware, you would get a very disappointing answer.”

“There was a time when devices would be patched by the IT department manually,” says Dezvane. “Today, things are happening too fast. Patching really has to be done remotely, it has to be done quickly when a new threat is detected, and by far the most efficient and effective way to do that is through remote push. This is a hugely important space. This is too important to leave up to an IT department that has a whole range of other needs to attend to.

Access Controls

Brian Healy, senior manager of managed print services for Brother, warns that organizations can lose control of their data not only through attacks from the outside, but also as a result of careless or malicious behavior by internal users. “The same information that companies are paying to protect on the network often gets printed out and piled up on the printer,” he says. “In a typical unmanaged environment, users can more easily gain access not only to devices, but to features within those devices that should be reserved for specific users in departments where confidential information is managed, such as human resources or finance.”

Access control tools and policies can regulate when, where and in what quantities users are able to print. These tools can also delay print jobs until the proper user is physically present to collect them, preventing situations where sensitive data sits out in the open.

“Once a job is printed, it’s really hard to control,” Wingate says. “Having a record of who’s printing what is a very good step to closing that back door.”


For organizations in highly regulated industries, such as finance, healthcare, government and education, the failure to comply with regulations governing sensitive data can lead to substantial penalties. And any organization that collects credit and debit card payments is subject to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. In addition to fines, the failure to protect the personal and payment records of customers often results in enormous damages to a brand’s reputation.

Print represents an often-overlooked pitfall in organizations’ compliance efforts. All it takes for an organization to fall out of compliance is for someone to accidentally send sensitive information to the wrong printer tray. In healthcare, printing errors account for 15 percent of all breaches under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Wingate says organizations can shield themselves from compliance issues by engaging an MPS partner to track compliance efforts. “It’s essential not just to secure data, but to provide evidence of that,” he says. “That’s what all the standards bodies are looking for: Do you have a policy, and are you monitoring compliance against that policy?”


In recent years, technology workers have been stretched increasingly thin in many organizations, and it makes little sense to leverage these valuable professionals to field service calls from users frustrated with paper jams and low toner. An MPS provider can help IT teams integrate a printer management strategy into an organization’s broader security strategy, freeing up technology workers to focus on core initiatives that will improve productivity and increase revenue.

“Especially in small and midsized businesses, most companies have limited IT resources, and they want IT to focus on very strategic things that are going to help the business,” says Doug Bies, president of the Managed Print Services Association. “A lot of IT professionals are running all over the place, and so companies engage in managed print services agreements with partners who can focus on print security. By outsourcing print, companies can let their IT teams focus on what the business is meant to do.”


The percentage of managed print services users who say that cybersecurity risks were an “important” or “very important” factor in adopting the solution

Source: Quocirca, “Managed Print Services Landscape,” July 2017

Cutting Waste with Print Analytics

In addition to improving security, managed print services can help businesses gain intelligence about their operations, better understand how documents are being used and reduce waste. In a 2016 report, “Analytics: Your documents have so much to tell you. Are you listening?” Xerox noted that print analytics can help companies to:

Control rising expenses or cut costs

Track and measure what, where and why users are printing

Improve existing paper-intensive processes, making them more effective and cost-efficient

Better align printing with business needs • Gather evidence to justify business changes

Learn how CDW’s Managed Print Services can help secure your organizations’ printer environment.