Managed Print Services: Your Secret Defense Against Internet Security Threats

Tim O’Shea, Director MPS Operations & Business Development, Oki Data Americas, Inc. | Monday, 05 June 2017, 12:49 IST

Today’s Fast-Paced Printing Technology Provides a Breeding Ground for Cyber Attacks. The concept of managed print services (MPS) isn’t a new phenomenon for CIOs, but recent massive denial of service attacks spotlights an existing benefit of MPS for medium and large businesess: keeping printers secure.

The security benefits for printers are twofold. First, CIOs can use MPS to protect their printers internally for the security of their organizations. Second, as with all de­vices connected to the Internet, printers without appro­priate security measures in place can become unwitting accomplices in coordinated denial of service attacks that can debilitate major Internet-connected services nation­wide.

Printer Security—the Threat is Real

While today’s fast-paced technology innovation powers new strategic initiatives, it also opens new doors for cy­ber criminals. In October, a number of popular websites like Twitter and Netflilx went down for some users in a massive cyberattack with international reach. The massive Internet attack that caused the outages for the websites was launched with the help of “Internet of Things” (IOT) devices such as video cameras, new data suggests.

Although investments in security are at an all-time high, successful cyber-attacks are still on the upsurge, both in number and sophistication. In fact, according to the Ponemon Institute, 92 percent of Forbes Global 2000 companies reported data breaches in the past year, with the average annual cost to resolve a cyber-attack amount­ing to $7.7 million.

While larger companies attractthe most attention from national media, small and medium-sized business­es (SMBs) are also at risk of having their customer data breached. These incidents may be less publicized, but the impacts are no less real for the companies and their cus­tomers.

According to one industry study, nearly half of all cy­ber-attacks are targeted at small and mid-sized businesses (41 percent). When an SMB is targeted, these criminals are 15 times more likely to succeed as compared to an at­tempt on a larger organization.

Today, many organizations have a large number of multi-function printers within their building, which print, scan and store sensitive information that can be hacked and exploited. The more progressive business-class multifunction printers and copiers are subject to a greater number of threats, since they are basically computers with their own hard driveand direct network connection. In earlier times, printers just had the function to print the requested data and posed no security threat.

Given their ubiquity in just about every office nation­ wide, printers are often the target of malware attacks. Plus, the fact that printers have been an office staple for more than 40 years means that they are sometimes overlooked by CIOs and others who are busy securing more vulnerable-looking devices, like routers or servers. According to one industry resource, a whopping 90 percent of businesses do not know how many printers they have.

Protect Your Printers with MPS

Implemented correctly, MPS meas­ures can ensure consistent security for any network of printers. MPS brings companies of all sizes closer to the goal of a secure environment, and allow funding for other security matters.

You can use MPS to ensure that your print jobs are secure, whether you need to apply the rules to your small business ora single department within a large company. Most MPS solutions allow for different types of authentication to suit your business needs.

Some of the basic steps IT admin­istrators can take to secure their print environemt are:

• Control access to the printer and its functions at the group, individual, and activity level

• Keep printer software up-to-date so that all security patches from ven­dors are installed

• Ensure data is secure at every stage of the workflow–from the data path along the network to the device itself.

• Use all available tools to protect sensitive documents from loss or theft.

• Always include printers in standard network security measures and poli­cies

At OKI Data, we emphasize that businesses follow these steps to en­sure printer security. We also offer PaperCut MF software. PaperCut MF is an easy to use, cost effective print accounting and management software designed to help organi­zations save money by preventing excess and unauthorized printing, copying, scanning and faxing. Its unique design allows it to scale easily making it suitable for sites of all sizes regardless of network environment, platform, or type of print device.

MPS: Security, Plus Efficiency

In addition to providing a safety net for your printer network, some analysts estimate that organizations with a solid MPS strategy in place can improve efficiency by 10 to 30 percent, through reduced tech sup­port and help-desk calls, reduced paper flows, and other factors. You also can improve security by gaining greater control over printer access. At OKI Data, our managed print services are designed to significantly reduce the costs of your annual docu­ment output as well as increase your company’s workflow efficiencies. So what do we recommend to ensure that printers are working efficiently?

• Maintenance is critical. It is im­portant that your office keeps certain items on hand to ensure your print­ers remain well maintained. Consult with the manufacturer as some mod­els may require specific maintenance products to prevent damage to the printheads and other components of the machine.

• Update firmware and drivers. This is important for a number of reasons. Driver updates will make your printer more proficient from your computer or print station.

• Get smart. Take the time to fa­miliarize your employees with everything your printers can do. For example, some are able to sort and staple, which saves on administrative time.

Whether you are looking to secure your small, medium or large business printer network, or need guidance with managing your printer network efficiency, look to an MPS program to help you manage all aspects of your business printing devices, in­cluding printers, scanners, faxes and copiers. The optimization of these devices enables you to save money, produce less paper waste, increase ef­ficiency, and secure your network.