How SMBs can prevent the security vulnerabilities associated with their printed documents

A recent study by Quocirca has revealed serious gaps in the security of printed documents at small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). But what measures can SMBs take to increase document security?

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For many SMBs in Europe paper-based documents continue to be essential for their operation. Often these documents contain sensitive information, whether they relate to people and are bound by data protection regulation or are commercially sensitive - such as details of commercial contracts, financial information, or intellectual property. To put it simply, it is information that is only for those who need to see it. The cost of these documents falling into the wrong hands can be severely damaging, whether through losing a competitive advantage, reputational harm, or stiff financial penalties from the regulator.

Worrying number of data losses associated with printed documents at SMBs 

Therefore, it was concerning when in February new Quocirca “SMB Attitudes to Print Security” research revealed that 63% of SMBs reported experiencing at least one print-related data breach in the last 12 months, with the average cost of each breach in the region of £400,000 (almost €470,000). On average, 30% of these breaches involved paper documents. 

This makes the result of the question as to which area SMBs consider to be the greatest security risk all the more surprising. Only 20% cited the office print infrastructure as the biggest security risk. At the same time, around 40 % of the SMBs indicated that it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with print security challenges and 38% is not or barely confident that their organisation’s print infrastructure is protected from security breaches and data loss. 

Perhaps this is why 32% of SMBs cite preventing the printing of sensitive or confidential documents as the biggest print security challenge for them. The report published by Quocirca, therefore highlights the vulnerability of these organisations to data loss and should act as a clarion call to every SMB.  

What are the causes of the security gaps? 

Quocirca identifies the diversity of SMB print fleets (71%), often made up of multiple vendors, as a reason for the security breaches that have occurred. A multi-vendor fleet may not have consistent security controls for a mixed fleet of devices, and all private printers may be unauthorised or unmonitored. Unsurprisingly, reported data breaches are significantly higher in organisations with a mixed fleet of printers (63%) than those with a standardised fleet (56%). 

Added to this is the increased use of multifunctional (MFP) devices compared to the past, in response to digitalisation and the spread of remote working, which means more employees have access to a printing system. Today, hybrid working is the norm for many employees, and they want to access applications and documents, as well as print from a wide range of locations, whether it is from home, their car, hotel, coffee shop, another office, or anywhere they can get access to a Wi-Fi connection and printer (whether or not it is encrypted or secure).  

How Konica Minolta helps SMBs: a multi-layered approach to print security 

These risks can be mitigated through a layered approach to print security. Konica Minolta has exactly this layered approach to security, with multiple security measures and controls at different levels, or layers within a system or network. This prevents the paper output from falling into the wrong hands, whether accidentally or maliciously, and prevents the bizhub MFPs from becoming gateways to the wider IT environment used by malicious actors. Konica Minolta's multi-layered approach to print security creates a series of barriers that prevent attackers from accessing MFPs and stealing sensitive data and provides bizhub MFPs with strong endpoint protection. 

MFPs equipped with strong endpoint protection 

To prevent bizhub MFPs from being successfully hacked, the bizhub SECURE service includes a range of features such as advanced password protection and powerful encryption for HDD and SSD, or the Bitdefender antivirus detection scanning all incoming and outgoing data in real-time and notifying users if the MFP is exposed to a potential risk. 

The latest generation of bizhub iSeries MFPs also provide enhanced SIEM (security information and event management) capabilities, providing IT administrators with real-time security alerts and the ability to set up customisable workflows to prevent brute force attacks.  

In addition, Konica Minolta’s Shield Guard software delivers cloud-based monitoring and management of an organisations entire fleet of MFP devices, identifying security vulnerabilities and ensuring compliance with industry regulations, all from a single central dashboard.  

User authentication before printing to secure documents of unauthorised access 

The pull printing functions of the Dispatcher Paragon (on premise) and Workplace Pure (cloud print) print management solutions from Konica Minolta are an important way of preventing unauthorised persons from accessing documents that are not intended for their eyes. Users must always identify themselves at the MFP via PIN, username, password or ID before their print is outputted. The advantage of this is that they can also retrieve their documents on other devices (follow-me printing). The GRAWE Banking Group from Austria also used this function in Dispatcher Paragon to make its printing environment more secure and to ensure that the documents printed on its printers cannot be viewed by unauthorised persons. "Thanks to Authentication Management, we can prevent unauthorised access to the highly sensitive information, eliminating security gaps," emphasises Armin Rettl, Head of IT Infrastructure at GRAWE Banking Group.   

Zero trust by design with cloud print 

For organisations wanting to reap the rewards of hybrid, remote and mobile working, the  cloud platform offers a wide range of services including document conversion, translation and cloud printing. Here, Konica Minolta enables zero trust by design in document security. Some examples: Data is transmitted using TLS data encryption (the same encryption technology that is used for securing HTTPS connections in web browsers), two-factor authentication (including complex passwords), synchronisation with SSO systems and user pseudonymisation. Furthermore, there are only short retention periods (maximum seven days) for usage and print data, which can also be set to zero if required and a clear role concept to limit the access rights to system resources to the absolutely necessary. All full compliant with the most stringent GDPR requirements. 

The human factor is the most important factor to consider 

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, is training users on best safety practices, helping them to recognise and prevent potential disasters – because humans are often the weakest link in the safety chain. Konica Minolta can also support organisations in this area. 

If you would like to know more about Konica Minolta Printer Security, please click here.
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