Orphaned print jobs: the silent security leak

Stop sprinting to the printer to keep private information from prying eyes. Now there’s a better way to print documents and protect your organization’s confidential data.

Security remains a major source of anxiety for companies of all sizes, which is why it consistently falls at the top of the list when it comes to ranking IT business concerns. According to a recent report from IDC, IDC FutureScape: CIO Agenda Leading the Third Platform Business and Technology Transformation through 2015 and Beyond, 70% of global enterprise CEOs report that security is a top-3 business priority.

Today, IT security involves everything from securing computing devices to protection of data, networks, and processing power. Complexities surrounding these issues have increased due to the ongoing shift to mobile technologies and cloud-based computing. Trends around BYOD have created significant challenges for IT departments, with the need to secure multiple device platforms while managing access to business-critical information.

Every device connected to the network has become an access point to business-critical information, including the network printer or MFP.


A closer look at printer security

Consider the fact that 70% of companies have experienced a printing-related data breach. When it comes to printer and MFP security, most people immediately think of documents or content stored on the device itself. One such issue reached high-profile status in 2010, when a CBS news story revealed the significant threat posed by copiers and MFPs that use embedded hard drives to archive print jobs. In some cases, sensitive corporate information remained on the device even after the machine was removed from service. Today, that issue has mostly been resolved through the use of data encryption and image-overwrite features for internal hard drives.

Nevertheless, many businesses remain unaware of the critical security threat posed from orphaned print jobs: files that are sent to the device and printed only to be left unattended in the output tray or perhaps never retrieved. Left in the open, these printed documents could place sensitive corporate information in the hands of the wrong individual. Even worse, vital information could be leaked outside of the organization. When you consider that these printed documents could contain anything from sensitive financial material to private employee records, the security risk is substantial.


The risk posed by orphaned print jobs

Studies show that 20 percent of all print jobs are never retrieved by the original user. How can businesses address this issue? Secure printing management technologies, such as pull printing and follow-you printing provide an added layer of security in the document environment by holding print jobs until they are released at the network device. In other words, print jobs are not sent to specific printers or MFPs but instead are sent to a secure server that could reside on premise or in the cloud.

To retrieve the actual printed output, users simply log in and release the print job from any supported device at their convenience. This process typically requires users to authenticate themselves at the MFP by swiping an ID card or entering a PIN number before the print job is released—thus eliminating the threat posed from orphaned print jobs.

Many solutions provide further security measures, allowing administrators to configure the system to delete those print jobs that are not released in a timely fashion. The process of “electronically shredding” unwanted material permanently removes the file from the system to eliminate any further risk of unintended information disclosure.

Along with the added layer of protection, these solutions provide organizations with a measure of convenience to help drive greater efficiencies and user productivity. Secure follow-you printing solutions allow users to print from anywhere, at anytime, and retrieve documents when and where they are needed. The final result is a secure printing environment that eliminates the risk of unwanted information leakage while reducing paper waste and freeing up resources normally dedicated to dealing with unclaimed documents and inefficient print workflows.

Leave no document behind

More secure printing shouldn't mean more complicated printing. With Nuance print management software, your organization can balance security and control with ease-of-use and convenience.

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Jeff Segarra

About Jeff Segarra

Jeff Segarra is the Senior Director of Product Marketing for the Nuance Document Imaging Division. He is responsible for the global team that delivers industry product positioning, messaging and content to help our customers around the world identify how Nuance solutions can meet their needs. He enjoys speaking and writing about business process improvement, The Internet of Things, document security, document conversion technologies and personal productivity. He has an MBA from Iona College, Hagan School of Business and has been working with software technology for 20 years. Jeff is an original New Yorker and, therefore, a staunch Yankees fan – in the heart of Red Sox nation.