3 min

Solving Print-from-Home Security Challenges

Managed print services can help organizations shore up potential vulnerabilities associated with remote and hybrid work.

IT professionals already have enough metaphorical fires to fight. 

As if end-user devices, data centers, cloud environments, mobility and applications weren’t enough, IT shops are almost always charged with managing printer fleets as well. Nearly all of the IT leaders I know dislike this aspect of the job. It’s an area that requires significant end-user interaction, it demands constant care and feeding, and a million little things can go wrong.

With the rise of remote and hybrid work, another potential complication is rearing its head: work-from-home security vulnerabilities. A managed print services (MPS) engagement can not only simplify printer fleet management, but also help organizations mitigate security risks in four important ways.

Network Connections

An MPS partner such as CDW will help to configure print and multifunction devices before they are shipped to end-user locations (including employees’ homes). This process might include print optimization tweaks that help organizations save on ink and toner, improving their cost-per-page metrics. Perhaps even more important for remote workers, a partner can help them understand when network connections might actually increase vulnerabilities. Wi-Fi is a favorite avenue for attackers looking to steal financial data, HR records or other information from printers. Depending on an organization’s risk tolerance, security configurations can restrict Wi-Fi connections.

Encryption of Data

Wireless printing and scanning are central to the workflows of some remote and hybrid workers. To be efficient, they may need to send scans directly from a printer to the office , rather than taking the extra step of first getting the files onto their laptop. That’s fine — an MPS partner can configure printers and multifunction devices to encrypt data during transit, preventing it from falling into the hands of cybercriminals looking to exploit wireless connectivity.

Hard-Drive Sanitization

One of the most effective ways to prevent hackers from stealing data from print devices? Simply make sure data isn’t there for them to steal. Many printers and multifunction devices with hard drives can be wiped of information, either manually or automatically at set intervals. An MPS partner can help set up automated hard-drive sanitization or help train remote and hybrid employees on how to tackle this task themselves. The process varies from device to device, making it important for organizations to standardize on a small number of printers and then set up processes and practices that will work best for their specific environments.

Device Selection

Finally, an MPS partner can help organizations choose the printers and multifunction devices that both meet their needs and help them to achieve their security objectives. Some employees may not need a printer with a hard drive, and organizations can often save resources and boost security by shipping simple printers to these remote and hybrid workers. Others who need a more robust device with a hard drive might not handle sensitive data, opening up more printer options for those users. But for workers who handle financial data, HR records, health records, intellectual property or other highly sensitive or regulated records, choosing the right device could mean the difference between a safe environment and an eventual breach.

Story by Lisa Siebert, who has worked in the print industry for 25 years and worked at CDW for the past three years in managed print.

Lisa Siebert

CDW Expert
Lisa Siebert has worked in the print industry for 25 years and worked at CDW for the past three years in managed print.