By Darren Cassidy, Managing Director, Xerox UK
The risk of data loss through printed material is still remarkably commonplace. While online hacks make headlines, breaches related to printed documents still represent a significant portion of data loss today. It’s important to realise that printers connect to an organisation’s entire network, and the security of traditionally paper-intensive business processes should be included in efforts to secure information in an increasingly digital environment. Print processes should sit right alongside mobility, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), cloud computing and big data when it comes to securing information.
The business world has seen a drastic change in the way works gets done. The challenge now is to secure and integrate paper documents into this digital age.
Managing print in business
Today, many organisations still rely heavily on paper to support their business processes. A recent report by Quocirca revealed that around a third (30 per cent) of European companies see print as critical to their business. The report also highlights the huge data loss risk presented by paper. Document security emerged as the top print management challenge, and the number one concern around print security ranked as the need to control confidential or sensitive information printed to shared printers.
Quocirca reported 70 per cent of businesses admitted to having at least one data breach caused by unsecured printing in the past year.
Even though companies are expecting print volumes to fall – and this will go part way to negating this risk – it will not happen overnight. In the meantime, processes such as managed print services (MPS) have an important role to play in securing print infrastructure in an office environment where information, regardless of its confidentiality, is readily available to anyone.
Securing the printed word
In a large office environment employees use printers to send valuable information across the company every day, often without a second thought – inevitably having their print-outs seen by others. In this situation, an MPS model works to eliminate the risk of printed documents or confidential data falling into the wrong hands, by offering the tools necessary to simplify and secure the printing process:
Authentication. A simple solution to the pile of potentially confidential papers piling up in the printer tray; authentication functions assign PIN numbers to print jobs and ensures documents remain in the queue, unprinted, until ‘released’ by the user.
Mobile access. In the age of BYOD, giving mobile workers a secure server from which to print wherever they’re working from, allows workers to print to any device inside or outside an organisation without compromising corporate information.
Security technologies. Not just restricted to personal computers and mobiles, traditional security software – as offered by vendors such as Cisco or McAfee – can be combined with traditional print infrastructure to help continually monitor print security and protect businesses from malware and viruses before they become a threat.
Preparing for paper-to-digital workflows
Put simply, as businesses continue to develop – encompassing more and more of the online world into their offline office structure – it will be increasingly important for work environments to find a balance between the need for secure paper processes and the need for digitisation.
Services like MPS are set to have a big part to play in bridging this gap. As the results of Quocirca’s study show, while companies are stepping up their efforts to improve their protection, they still have work to do in safeguarding their enterprise print infrastructure – and MPS is just the first step.
 This figure rises to 84% in public sector 75% in retail
Darren Cassidy is managing director for Xerox UK, overseeing the performance of Xerox’s UK arm and directing the strategy for building long-term growth.
Since joining Xerox 23 years ago, Darren has held a variety of senior sales and channel management roles in the UK and across Xerox Europe. He managed Xerox’s UK channel and sales teams for two years in 2006 before becoming VP of Large Accounts across Europe. Prior to his appointment as MD, Darren was VP of Global Managed Print Services Offer and Business Development.
Outside of work, Darren is a keen sports enthusiast. He played National League rugby in the UK and has represented and captained his county at all levels. He has also played semi-professional football and enjoys cricket and golf.