In a previous life I ran an IT department for the regional headquarters of a large nonprofit organization. I talked about how a big pain point for my department was dealing with printers in an article I wrote recently (and how HP MPS would have been a great help), but today I want to talk about how IT departments can easily secure the army of printers they are tasked with maintaining.
Keeping printers running smoothly for an organization with employees in the 150-1,000 range in one thing; doing it securely is an entirely different animal. Printers host an enormous amount of potentially sensitive data: strategic documents and information flow through them in both digital and physical forms. Someone could infiltrate a building and steal that information, sure, but that should probably be (and probably is) the least of your worries.
More concerning is the network data along with the access control and authentication which leave your organizations entire network exposed (printers and anything else connected to your networks). You definitely don’t want to leave any open entry points for hackers to insert malware and viruses and you also don’t want to allow anyone to walk up to a printer and exploit permissions.
Okay… I suppose that all seems obvious — and it’s probably information that has been swimming around in the back of your head since you took the job, but there’s probably a reason why you haven’t tackled printer security yet (unless you have, and in that case, kudos my friend!). It’s likely that your plate is already quite full and you barely have enough time to think about these issues, much less do something about them. Or I suppose it could be that you find it all a bit overwhelming and you’re just not sure where to start because it seems like it could be such a large project. There may be other reasons — I don’t know — but I do know there’s an easier solution than doing it yourself: letting experts take over and handle it for you!
Think about it: you’re in charge of the IT budget. You could hire someone — or even a team — to tackle printer issues, including security. But that’s expensive. If I were you — and I was — I would rather hire a doctor to come in and handle things surgically. The operation would be far less expensive than having a surgeon on staff. Securing your printers can be done effectively, sure — but it can also be done cost effectively, and that’s what will make everyone above your pay grade the happiest.
HP has a really great tool — the SPA Tool — that can help you figure what printer security options are available to you. Even if you want to proceed independently, it might be worth filling out the quick questionnaire which will spit out a useful checklist with fundamental and advanced printer security safeguards that can be added to those policies already in place at your organization.
From one IT guy to another, this sounds like a really good resource. It’s a good feeling when you know you’ve done everything you can to make your organizations technology infrastructure work as well (and as securely) as it possibly can on your watch. So go ahead and head over to the HP Secure Print Analysis Survey and see how you can better handle printer security for your enterprise.