Data leakage? Secure print can help.

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What is Data Leakage and Why Should You Care About It?

Data leakage is the unauthorized transmission of data from within an organization to an external destination or recipient. The actual transmission can happen via electronic or physical methods. The majority of data leaks are caused by human errors, employees with malicious intent, or external actors trying to gain access to data using malware, phishing or other attacks. According to Shred-It’s State of the Industry report, the vast majority of C-Suites (84%) and half of the small business owners (51%) in the United States identify employee negligence as their biggest information security risk. In early 2019, the BlackRock data leak caused by human error exposed the information of 20,000 asset managers online. In 2018, a disgruntled employee printed the information of 1.5 million clients of SunTrust bank and gave it to a criminal third party.

The scope for data leakage is wide, but printers are often overlooked as possible endpoints. Today’s printers are multi-functional devices (MFPs) that not only print but also scan and fax documents, store print jobs on internal drives, and upload data to the cloud. As a result, the data on printers has high exposure risk.

How Secure Print Prevents Data Leakage

The most effective way to prevent data leakage is to ensure that documents are printed and collected by the originator. Deploying and securing print with a trusted identity (established with a card, wearable, mobile or biometrics) means that documents are not immediately release for print. Instead, the authorized user must authenticate their trusted identity at the printer before releasing the print job. Secure print prevents data leakage in several ways:

  • IT departments can employ granular control over printing, including selecting which users are allowed to use which MFPs.
  • IT departments can enforce certain restrictions based on employee job category, department, etc.
  • Users print only the documents that are necessary and collect all the printed documents from the printer. Unauthorized users can’t access confidential information.
  • Users are aware of the tracking and auditing capabilities of secure printing, so the solution helps cut down on human error and printing with malicious intent.

In addition to preventing data leakage, secure printing saves on total costs by preventing unnecessary or personal print jobs.

Taking It to Next Level: Content-Aware Secure Printing

Secure printing can be further strengthened by deploying a content-aware printing solution with data leak prevention (DLP). The organization’s data can be classified, and the organization’s policy can be programmed so that printers will only allow certain users to print confidential or top secret data. In addition, content-aware filters can be deployed so that printers can restrict print jobs when the filters are triggered by a combination of keywords or templates. Corrective actions in such cases can be controlled by IT departments. These include:

  • Preventing the job from releasing
  • Routing the job to a secured printer
  • Notifying an administrator

IT administrators need to assess the level of risk for data leakage and deploy the solution that fits the needs of the business. IT departments have the responsibility of monitoring print usage on an ongoing basis to ensure that organizational policies are heeded by employees, contractors, and others using the IT infrastructure.

Learn more on how to enhance your organization’s endpoint security by implementing secure print today.

Ashish's primary focus at HID is to drive eco-system enablement with partners and leverage HID Global technologies to secure business systems. His responsibilities include driving the product strategy and sales competency while overseeing the marketing activities for HID embedded solutions. Prior to joining HID Global, Ashish managed product management activities for campus networking portfolio of Dell-EMC where he led the transformation of campus networking portfolio. He also previously held marketing and product leadership roles at information security and systems management companies including Gemalto, TippingPoint (Trend Micro) and ValiCert (Axway). As a novelist and amateur photographer, he spends his free time writing, blogging and shooting landscapes.