Canadian Security Magazine

Secure printing system guards against data leaks and promotes green practices

By Matthew Lopez   

News Data Security

The corporate world has entered an age when corporate social responsibility is more than just an altruistic pursuit. Companies of all sizes, in all industries, are feeling pressure to save money and simultaneously meet the growing demand for environmental responsibility and accountability.

Organizations can “go green” while achieving cost savings by implementing a managed print services (MPS) program with controlled document printing. A key component is a secure-document print-release system coupled with a contactless smart card and integrated reader system that, in most cases, is already being used for physical access control.  This system enhances user convenience while promoting responsible use of natural resources by reducing paper and electricity consumption.  A properly implemented system will successfully reduce an organization’s carbon footprint and meet internal green initiatives.

With multiple machines for copy, print, and scan requirements, as well as multiple desktop printers residing in individual offices, it is nearly impossible to determine the actual financial and environmental costs associated with printing. However, it has been estimated that the average company spends between 1 and three perc ent of its revenues on print and imaging consumables and other print-related expenses. Studies show that a typical employee prints 10,000 pages per year, and 17 per cent of those pages were considered waste. Those same 10,000 printed pages consumed 51.5 killowatts per hour (kWh) of electricity in the print process, and the 1,700 wasted pages consumed almost 9 kWh of electricity during the printing process.  Meanwhile, manufacturing those 10,000 pieces of paper produced 284.5 pounds of greenhouse gases, or the equivalent of just over 1 week of car exhaust.  By eliminating each employee’s 1,700 wasted pages of printing, annually, controlled document printing and other print management initiatives can save as much as $102 to $221 per year, per employee.

Controlled document printing is achieved by pairing networked printers or multi-function printer (MFP) devices with third-party software and a contactless card and integrated reader system. The system requires employees to present their card to a reader integrated into the printer and be “authenticated” before a document can be printed. Users can be granted or denied certain rights and privileges based on department, hierarchy and position. When an employee prints to a device, the print job is initially delivered to a queue where the request can be checked against the pre-set rules. If the employee has authority to print this document, the document will be released from this queue and delivered to the printer only after the employee presents his or her company identification card to the MFP.

In addition to saving resources by only releasing print jobs when an authorized user presents a contactless card to the reader on the device, print management solutions also eliminate wasted paper by deleting print jobs that are not released in pre-set timeframes. Toner use is also reduced, there is less wear and tear on the equipment since fewer documents are printed, and electricity consumption is reduced since devices can remain in a low-power mode until a card is presented.  Print management systems also enhance accountability by giving administrators the ability to track MFP usage by user or department, and offer users the convenience of using the same contactless card that gets them into the building.

Managed print services programs also offer other benefits.  Besides reducing costs and improving environmental sustainability, MPS programs also minimize the potential for data leakage by keeping confidential information and intellectual property out of the public domain. This enables organizations to meet compliance requirements associated with heavily regulated industries. Organizations have developed security policies to govern the use and misuse of company computers and laptops, but have tended to neglect printers, scanners, copiers and MFPs.  Employees can print or copy documents and scan images or documents directly to email and other electronic destinations, and yet these powerful devices are unmonitored and uncontrolled in most enterprises. MPS programs allow organizations to minimize security risks by establishing rules governing the use of MFP devices, preventing unauthorized employees from using certain functions of the device.

There are three main steps to implementing an MPS program:
•    Internal Audit
A Managed Print Services solution will begin with an internal audit. This will provide an organization with a complete picture of every device in the organization and the location of each.

•    Fleet Consolidation
The next step is to consolidate the fleet. This will entail removing seldom used devices and individual desktop printers, and strategically placing MFPs in high-traffic areas for multiple individuals to access. Most providers will offer solutions that utilize an organization’s existing fleet if possible, and add the appropriate number of devices to create a complete network of MFPs for printing, scanning and copying requirements.

•    Consider an Intelligent Print Management solution
Organizations also can implement an Intelligent Print Management to optimize and enhance their ability to minimize costs and create new business processes. The solution is embedded within the hardware to allow IT administrators to establish user rules, move documents electronically to minimize scanning and copying requirements, and authenticate the identity of an employee using the device.

An MPS program with controlled printing is a key weapon in the battle to improve environmental sustainability while reducing costs.  Additional measures can be taken to further reduce the environmental impact of high-volume printing environments, including defaulting to double-sided printing. By implementing these measures and “going green” through managed printing, organizations can reduce print waste, minimize their carbon footprint and meet their corporate social responsibility.

Mathew Lopez, Business Developer Manager HID Global

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