Managed Print Security: Hold Down The Fort With Encryption

Protecting Your Multifunction Devices From Outside Intruders

In yesterday’s blog, we talked about Managed Print Strategy, but today it’s all about Managed Print Security.

To fully secure your network, you have to get serious about encryption. And to do that, you have to understand what encryption actually is and why it’s so important to include in your arsenal of print management solutions.

Let’s answer the second question first: Why is security so crucial for network printing? They’re just printers, after all. Right?

Exactly — printers with powerful wireless and mobile printing capabilities and, therefore, at dangerous risk for foul play by both amateur freeloaders and more devious hackers.

DON’T RISK UNWANTED INTRUSIONS

We’ll break it down for you. Here are the reasons why printing security is so essential:

  1. Your private information depends on it.

Wireless, networked printing would not be possible without connection to the internet. This is what people often overlook when they think of printing security — they don’t realize network printing involves the sending and receiving of packets of information over the internet. So if an outsider is able to capture and open these packets, your passwords, private information, customer data and financial records are vulnerable to hackers.

  1. Your connection speed depends on it.

A slow network tops the list of most frustrating office inconveniences. If outsiders are accessing your network — malicious motives or not — the connection speed slows down significantly. More users = more traffic = less efficiency.

  1. Your reputation depends on it.

You aren’t doing anything illegal. Your employees aren’t doing anything illegal. But if outsiders are using your network for illegal internet activity, you may have to pay the price for that unwanted user’s fraudulence.

  1. Your data usage depends on it.

If your service provider restricts your monthly data usage, outside users could put your account in violation of this limit.

Don’t give hackers or even seemingly innocent outsiders access to what’s yours — whether it’s your information, connection speed, lawful identity or data availability.

GET CRYPTIC

So how do you prevent this outside intrusion? You get cryptic. In other words, you take advantage of encryption.

Encrypting your network is the most important safeguard when it comes to wireless security. Here’s how it works:

All of your wireless devices, including your printers, are connected through your wireless router. By encrypting your network, you’re essentially scrambling the information that’s transmitted to and from your router. This makes your network’s data unreadable to people outside your network.

There are many methods of encryption, but they’re not all created equal. While any type of encryption is better than no encryption at all, some methods are more secure than others.

  • Wired Equivalency Privacy (WEP)

This method represents the basic, light-level security of encryption. Some older wireless printers only support WEP, so if this is the case for you, you’ll want to consider connecting your printers using an ethernet or USB cable. But your best course of action is upgrading your printers.

  • Again, WEP encryption is better than no encryption at all. So to create a WEP password, use 10-58 digits with numbers 0-9 and letters A-F. Remember, it’s case-sensitive.
  • Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA and WPA2)

The preferred methods of encryption, WPA and WPA2, were created in response to WEP’s weaknesses. They use both passwords and passphrases. What’s the difference? A password is a grouping of letters, numbers and/or punctuation without spaces. A passphrase, on the other hand, is a string of grouped letters, numbers and/or punctuation that utilizes spaces. These are more like sentences and are therefore longer than a reasonable memory could retain. The spaces make passphrases much harder to break than passwords, so make sure you use them.

  • To create a WPA or WPA2 password, utilize 13 characters with upper- and lowercase letters, punctuation and numbers. For a passphrase, include spaces. Again, these are case-sensitive.

After your network is encrypted, it’s advisable to take advantage of additional security measures, like firewalls, secure protocols and a router with a guest network option — this gives your clients or colleagues access to the internet, but not to your main network or its devices. Also, make sure to disable any unnecessary services and unused internet connections, like Ethertalk or Internetwork Packet Exchange/Sequenced Packet Exchange (IPX/SPX). This keeps unauthorized hosts from sneaking in through unnecessary openings.

Wireless printers have become more commonplace these days and we realize that firewalls are intended to block threats from outside your network. That said, this mean they can sometimes block communication between devices on your network and can cause problems when using network printers.  To learn more about the issues that may arise and ways to solve them, read this blog post by HP entitled: Security information and firewalls.

HOLD DOWN THE FORT FROM THE OUTSIDE, TOO

Output security is just as important as securing your printers from the inside. Take advantage of the security options your multiservice devices offer, like secure print or confidential print features — these allow employees to hold printer jobs in memory until they physically walk up to the machine and enter a PIN code to initiate the printing.

Some multifunction devices even have options to store certain documents, like frequently printed forms and letterheads, in the printer’s memory. This allows employees to send several jobs at once and initiate them to print collectively with their PIN code.

And don’t let a paper jam turn into a security scam! Printers usually reprint jobs after the jam is cleared — and most of the time, the jam is not cleared by the person who initiated the print job, but by a service technician or even another employee. To prevent unauthorized persons from retrieving documents reprinted after a paper jam, turn off the jam recovery feature if your devices offer it.

For more advice on ensuring that your devices are safe and secure, click the button below and a DocuSense team member will get in touch with you ASAP.