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Connecting Dots

Secure Printing in the Modern Hybrid Environment

As Covid-19 restrictions continue to be lifted, many employees are heading back to the office. However, the landscape of the office will likely never return to its pre-pandemic form. As restrictions ease and staff begin returning to the office in person, it’s important to note that the future of work will likely be a hybrid environment for many companies.

A survey from Harvard Business School showed that 81% of workers either don’t want to report back to the office or would prefer to work hybrid. In addition, a recent survey from the UK found that employees were spending an average of 1.5 days in the office. Even companies like Apple are heading back into the office, but not full-time, instead only requiring 2-3 days in the office. These hybrid models are rapidly becoming the standard in most industries, with many prospective employees hesitant to accept positions that don’t offer the flexibility of a hybrid work environment.

With more workers wanting the flexibility that hybrid work environments offer, businesses and IT teams have several challenges to overcome in terms of security, connectivity, and infrastructure. According to an expansive survey conducted by Cisco: “Operating and supporting a hybrid workforce starts with investing in the technologies and tools needed to support work from anywhere. In fact, technology support was rated as a top priority for working from home successfully by 77% of employees.”

The importance of technology support for hybrid workers creates obvious challenges for IT teams that are tasked with keeping their organization's data secure, especially when it comes to secure remote printing.

Keeping Your Data Secure When Printing Remotely

In a world where folks are logging into cloud environments, it’s easier than ever to intercept data in transit. So that means it’s more important than ever that the technology used ensures the security of the print data stream, leading to more secure printing. When it comes to secure remote printing, there are some basic questions to ask:

· Who has access to printers?

· Do they have access to the right ones?

· Do they have access to more than they should?

The wrong printer assignment could mean sensitive data being printed in the wrong part of the building or campus, which could easily lead to a data breach depending on the document printed. This becomes a more common problem with more end users working remotely and having a greater chance to have the wrong printer assignment. Viewing printer assignments and management from a security perspective is often overlooked, but it is a critical aspect in keeping your data secure.

Accurate reports are a key part of any good security strategy so that they can be examined for irregularities. Given the sensitive nature of some print jobs, print job reporting can become an important tool for keeping sensitive data safe, and keeping users accountable.

Printer Security

Most businesses already implement quality anti-virus software, email filters, and web-blockers, but there are even further steps that can be taken. More staff working off-site means that there will be an increase in the number of endpoints accessing your network. Your business most likely already protects staff’s laptops and tablets, but their other devices need to be secured as well.

The printers and scanners your staff use at home can be just as vulnerable as their computers. IT teams can bolster the security of these devices by using the tips below:

  1. Control access to printers and scanners. Not every employee needs access to every device, IT teams and system administrators should control access to devices for end users

  2. Ensure your IT team has proper access for the correct role. Sensitive or confidential information must be delivered and printed on the correct device.

  3. Control redirection policies so not just anyone can redirect. With so many employees working from home, businesses may not want those employees printing and scanning on nonsecure devices.

  4. Secure the print data flow. Printers and scanners oftentimes house sensitive data before and after jobs so it’s important to be sure they’re secured.

Print Management Solutions

With the consensus that hybrid work is the way of the future, it’s more important than ever that organizations focus attention and resources on their digital workspaces. Without the proper IT infrastructure for remote and hybrid workers, problems can and will arise, the most pressing of which is security breaches.

While all the information above may seem daunting, there are print management solutions on the market that can alleviate these issues. The needs of every organization vary, so it’s important to research the options for print management solutions to find what makes sense for your organization. It’s also of paramount importance when searching for the right solution to remember that printers are endpoints and need to be as secure as any other device on the network. Printer security is often overlooked, so you want to ensure that the solution you choose keeps your data secure.


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