Pharos at the 2024 Gartner Digital Workplace Summit

Prepare for the Digital Evolution of Print at the 2024 Gartner® Digital Workplace Summit

Meet our expert team, experience our game-changing Pharos Cloud in action, and receive a complimentary coffee gift card.

Pharos is excited to exhibit at the Gartner® Digital Workplace Summit in Grapevine, Texas. Join us to learn more about our cloud-native print management solutions for enterprise and education. Our solutions help large organizations deal with the complexity of enterprise printing by eliminating print servers, enhancing security, driving IT staff efficiency, improving the digital employee experience, and supporting an increasingly distributed workforce.

Visit us in booth 405 to see our cutting-edge solutions in action and get all your questions answered by our team of sales executives and solutions engineers. We look forward to connecting with you and demonstrating how Pharos Cloud simplifies print management, enabling your team to work more efficiently, reduce costs, and enhance security.

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Gartner Digital Workplace Summit 2024

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Why Print Drivers Are Increasingly Becoming a Nightmare for Corporate IT

In July 2021, a report revealed that millions of computers dating back to 2005 contain a print driver that introduces a dangerous vulnerability, which cyberattackers could use to escalate system access privileges. This makes it possible for someone with no administrative access credentials to access restricted areas of a system and initiate an attack on a network and get access to sensitive data.

While the potential fallout of this vulnerability is huge, the discovery itself is not new. Print drivers have long been an attack vector for cybercriminals seeking to penetrate otherwise secure machines and networks. In addition, managing print drivers is time-consuming and cumbersome in hybrid and work-from-home environments, which leaves print driver security risks unmitigated.

By using a cloud-based print management solution, you can eliminate many of the challenges traditional print drivers present, as well as enjoy a convenient, straightforward experience—for both IT staff and employees.

Here’s why and how print drivers introduce vulnerabilities, the problems inherent in a traditional print infrastructure, and how a cloud print management solution creates a more productive, secure work environment.

The Traditional Print Environment Explained

In a traditional print environment, computers connect directly to the printer—through a network using an IP connection. When users connect via the network, they don’t have to physically connect their computer to the printer. Similar to other network-enabled connections, the printer and the computer are connected via Internet Protocol (IP). This enables the print job to go straight to the printer.

In addition, employees can install new drivers on their own computers, if this is something they’re allowed or able to do. Also, if all computers that connect to the network run the same operating system, a network admin can update all of the print drivers at the same time.

But this setup has disadvantages, too:

  • Admins and end-users spend considerable time installing drivers
  • When several people try to print at the same time, the system can get clogged up by all the traffic, resulting in the printer running out of buffer memory and not being able to print new jobs
  • It introduces vulnerabilities that allow hackers to escalate privileges. They then use these privileges to execute other attacks or access sensitive digital assets on your network

Traditional Print Driver Management’s Impact on Productivity

In addition to introducing security vulnerabilities, traditional print driver management can also significantly reduce productivity. IT admins are responsible for installing and updating print drivers across your organization. An install happens for various reasons, including:

  • Updates to improve functionality
  • Updates to address security vulnerabilities
  • Power outages that can damage the existing driver

Once an admin identifies the need for a new driver installation or update, they have to figure out which method to use, whether the update should be done on other machines as well, and how to fit this task into an already busy schedule. Installing and updating is not only time-consuming, but it can also pull IT staff away from other business-critical tasks.

Traditional Print Driver Management with a Remote or Hybrid Workforce

With more and more organizations incorporating remote or hybrid work options, it’s crucial to maintain an infrastructure that’s flexible and agile. Traditional print driver management is often incongruent with a remote or hybrid work ecosystem. It may not be feasible for admins to arrange and execute remote installs or initiate the videoconferences or Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) connections necessary for remote users to start printing. This negatively impacts your organization’s security posture. For example, it can allow printers that aren’t updated to the latest certified driver to be a part of your network, making the network insecure.

With a cloud print infrastructure, not only can users connect to the printing system and submit their jobs easily and quickly, but if an update is required, the cloud print management provider takes care of it. This can free up enormous amounts of time for IT, which they can invest in other important projects.

The Potential Vulnerabilities Print Drivers Introduce to Your Security Architecture

Print drivers consist of software that enables your computer to communicate with a printer. They make sure the printer is available to perform the job, that there’s a link between your computer and the printer, and that the job gets sent directly to the printer you’re trying to use.

You may remember when people had to install drivers for USB devices. Similar to print drivers, these made it possible for your computer to interact with the external USB device. But in addition to simply forming a link, the print driver enables the computer to exercise control over the printer.

Printer drivers are useful for giving users a wide range of printing options. However, print drivers also introduce multiple security risks, such as basic default credentials, printing without permissions to unsecured printers, unauthorized configuration changes, and unauthorized data access and recovery.

If hackers exploit these vulnerabilities, they could install applications and create new user accounts, as well as access, change, delete, or encrypt data.

How Print Drivers Introduce Vulnerabilities

On Windows machines, in particular, vendor-provided drivers increase the chance of a vulnerability making it into your network. Because of the way the Windows system handles driver deployment, admins must implement print drivers as a shared resource using common protocols. IT teams may find it difficult to choose print drivers with adequate security measures, providing bad actors with a path to propagate their malicious payload across the network.

For instance, commonly used protocols, such as the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), can be subject to man-in-the-middle attacks. During this kind of attack, a hacker transmits a large number of SNMP queries using a fake IP address to the printer, which the printer replies to. This paves the way for the hacker to take control of the printer. Once they have the control, they can manipulate print job schedules so they can physically steal sensitive documents later.

However, a far more dangerous vulnerability exists on printers with the ability to email scanned documents to users. An attacker can use the printer’s emailing capabilities to launch phishing attacks. These may be even more effective than typical spam-based phishing emails because they could look like they came from a trusted device: your printer.

In this kind of attack, the bad actor can leverage the control they gain over the printer via the SNMP protocol to send an email—one that looks like it came from the printer—to someone in your organization. The email could contain a link that downloads malware onto their computer or lead them to a site where they’re asked to enter sensitive login credentials. Because it seems like the message is sent by the printer, the victim may be caught off guard.

On the other hand, with cloud-based printing, you don’t have to depend on manufacturer-provided drivers or a network admin properly setting up all communication protocols for your organization to be able to print securely. You get secure, reliable printing at the get-go because print drivers and print driver management are no longer part of the equation.

Reducing Print Driver Vulnerabilities with a Cloud Printing Infrastructure

With a cloud printing infrastructure, you can reduce the possibility of printer vulnerabilities, such as PrintNightmare or lesser-known bugs like CVE-2021-3438, impacting your system. In general, this is how cloud-based printing works:

  • An admin installs an agent on each computer and device employees use for printing, which makes it possible for each device to print
  • An application on the network enables computers connected to it to access the cloud
  • The client agent on the computer or device buffers the job, storing it until it’s ready to go to the printer or uploading it to the cloud so it can be printed later

This process makes it possible for the document to be printed either from the cloud or directly from the user’s computer.

As a result, you eliminate the on-premises driver “middleman,” effectively removing a prime target for attackers. Cloud print infrastructure is more secure because the print data and information contained in documents gets sent directly to the cloud service using end-to-end encryption. Even if a hacker intercepts the data stream, they wouldn’t be able to read sensitive documents without the decryption key. In addition, you can configure your cloud-based printing solution to only print documents if a specific user is physically present at the printer. This prevents passersby or information thieves from getting their eyes on sensitive information.

Secure Cloud-Based Printing with Pharos Cloud

A cloud-based print solution such as Pharos Cloud manages the entire print infrastructure. It uses a universal print driver that is compatible with thousands of different printers. In this way, you have one single driver that can control multiple printers from different manufacturers. This comes with key advantages:

  • Security: Because Pharos Cloud handles driver management, users or IT don’t have to find the drivers to install on their devices, which could otherwise introduce a vulnerability.
  • Convenience:Instead of IT having to install drivers on multiple computers every time there’s an update, Pharos Cloud eliminates the need to install drivers across your environment.
  • Increased productivity: Network admins don’t have to spend time manually installing new drivers and updates, freeing them up to work on more pressing projects.
  • Easy print provisioning for remote employees: With a cloud-based solution, it’s fast and easy to add new users because there’s no need to physically be in front of their computer or device. Your IT team can handle print management remotely.

To learn more about how your organization can benefit from cloud-based printing, request a demo of Pharos Cloud today.

Selecting Print Management Software Solutions: Red Flags to Look Out For

When vetting cloud print management software, it’s important to keep an eye out for potential red flags that could indicate a less-than-optimal solution. Here are some common red flags to be aware of:

Limited or no support for your current printing infrastructure

If the print management software does not support your current printing infrastructure, it could lead to compatibility issues and extra costs down the line.

Poor security features

Security is a critical concern when it comes to printing, so if the print management software lacks robust security features such as user authentication, access control, or encryption, it could put your organization’s data and devices at risk. You should also ask the potential vendor how their solution fits within a zero-trust security framework.

Complex or difficult-to-use user interface

The user interface of the print management software should be intuitive, user-friendly, and easy to navigate. If the interface is overly complex, difficult to use, or requires extensive training, it could hinder adoption and productivity.

Inadequate reporting and analytics

The ability to track and analyze printing behavior is essential for optimizing costs and improving productivity. If the print management software lacks comprehensive reporting and analytics, it could make it challenging to gain insights into your printing infrastructure and make informed decisions.

Poor scalability or limited capacity

Your organization’s printing needs may grow over time, so it’s important to select a print management software that can scale to meet your needs. If the software has limited capacity or scalability, it could result in the need to purchase a new solution in the future.

Unreliable or slow performance

Printing is a critical function in many organizations, so any performance issues with the print management software could result in productivity losses, downtime, and frustrated employees.

Limited or no customer support

If the print management software provider offers limited or no customer support, it could be challenging to get help when issues arise or questions need to be answered.

Hidden or unexpected costs

Some print management software providers may offer low initial costs but charge extra for add-ons, maintenance, support, or upgrades. Make sure to carefully review the pricing model and contract to avoid any unexpected costs.

Overall, when vetting cloud print management software, it’s essential to thoroughly research and evaluate the solution to ensure it meets your organization’s needs, is compatible with your current infrastructure, and offers reliable performance and robust security features.

8 Benefits of Cloud Print Infrastructure

Print management typically consumes vast amounts of energy from network administrators and the users who print. But by moving your print infrastructure to the cloud, you can greatly reduce the work needed to support your organization’s printing processes.

Benefits of a Cloud Print Infrastructure

Like so many other applications, a cloud-based platform offers many advantages compared to on-premises solutions, including:

  • Increased reliability – redundant servers and proactive maintenance by the cloud provider (like AWS) create more reliability compared to on-prem solutions.
  • Cost savings – less hardware and infrastructure costs from day 1
  • Reduced IT burden – printing in the cloud removes and simplifies several processes for IT teams
  • Flexibility and scalability – with cloud print infrastructure, you can easily scale up or down as your business needs change, without having to worry about physical hardware limitations.
  • Improved productivity – less hardware to manage, automatic updates, and improved scalability allows IT teams to be more productive
  • Easy access to new functionality that can be quickly implemented across your organization or for a limited segment of users
  • Support for virtual computing environments
  • Secure workflows that can be either on-premises or in the cloud – enhanced security measures, such as data encryption and backup, are seamless to implement via cloud software

While these benefits alone have been compelling enough to motivate many to switch to a cloud printing infrastructure, there are others that can have an equally significant impact on the workflows of your organization.

Using a Well-Designed Cloud Print Management Platform

Some of the unexpected benefits of cloud print management software include:

  • The ability to drive productivity by eliminating vendor driver management
  • Enhanced security
  • A more intuitive and consistent user experience
  • Reduced costs through enforcement of printing policies
  • Convenient remote workforce support
  • Actionable insights through robust reporting and analytics
  • Easier adherence to local data privacy and sovereignty requirements

Drive Productivity by Eliminating Vendor Driver Management

Managing the many print drivers from a range of vendors is a common time sink for administrators. Updating print drivers and troubleshooting driver issues requires a significant investment of human resources. Also, employees often need help right away, particularly when there’s a pressing printing issue.

With a universal print driver, you have one driver that’s compatible with a range of printers—in turn, you reduce the time spent updating drivers, addressing vendor driver issues, and handling patches vendors release to address functionality or security issues.

Enhance Cybersecurity

A traditional print server environment can expose your organization to significant security risks, such as malware spreading throughout your network via your print server system. While this may happen because a hacker specifically orchestrated an insider attack, employees can accidentally create vulnerabilities, allowing an attacker to infiltrate the network.

However, with a cloud print management platform, you eliminate the need for an on-premises print server. While no system is without risks, closing the door on hackers seeking to exploit a legacy print server significantly improves your cybersecurity posture. For example, some print servers can be accessed via the internet, enabling hackers to alter settings.

In addition, you can reduce the chances of sensitive documents getting left at the printer where unauthorized people can see them. With pull printing, the job gets sent from a device but is only printed after someone presents credentials at the printer.

With the cloud, you also get end-to-end data encryption. With this feature, even if a hacker successfully intercepts your information, they wouldn’t be able to decipher it without the digital key to decode data.

Reduce IT Burden

A cloud print management solution reduces the amount of work your IT team has to do by centralizing a range of operations and workflows. Your IT department gets a single console to gain visibility into your entire print infrastructure. Also, because the system is web-based, your team can access your dashboard no matter where they are, as long as they have an internet connection.

The right cloud print management solution is intuitive and simple to use. Because it provides a logical, efficient digital workspace for authorized users, it’s easier for your IT team to move from one issue to the next. This cuts down on the amount of time and mental bandwidth they have to expend on a daily basis.

For example, on a single screen, your IT team can get a snapshot of the printers in use, the kind of printing being done, the devices that need their attention, current usage statistics, and the percentage of secured versus unsecured devices. This information can be used to troubleshoot issues and predict potential problems that may arise down the road.

Intuitive and Consistent User Experience Across Platforms

Switching from one interface to another can get confusing, but with a cloud print management system, you can enjoy a consistent experience across various platforms, whether you’re using Mac, Windows, or Linux.

In addition, because you don’t have to identify different drivers based on the operating system, you can implement solutions in less time. Also, for administrators, there’s no need to adjust your troubleshooting procedures as you go from one platform to another.

Lower Costs Through Enforced Printing Policies

With a cloud print management solution, you get granular control over a number of printer settings. For example, you can make it necessary that everyone prints on both sides of the paper, effectively cutting your paper expenses by as much as half. If some teams need to occasionally print on one side, changing the settings takes a matter of moments.

Also, you can dictate who, if anyone, is allowed to print in color. This can save significant money on expensive color toner. You also get the flexibility needed to adjust policies based on different office locations, allowing you to more easily optimize your print budget across the enterprise.

Support Your Remote Workforce

It’s quick and easy to add remote workers to your print infrastructure if you have a cloud print management system. Instead of manually connecting to an on-premises print server, remote employees can log in and connect through the cloud solution. It’s also easier to meet the needs of your remote workforce. Additionally, a cloud-based system empowers IT to configure the most effective print settings for remote teams based on their workflows, saving time, preventing frustration, and boosting operational efficiency.

Gain Actionable Insights Through Robust Reporting and Analytics

The reporting and analytics features of a cloud print management system give you a distinct edge when it comes to monitoring performance as well as cost. The centralized dashboard lets you see, at a glance, the metrics that can help you address potential problems as well as fine-tune your overall print environment.

For example, with Pharos Insights’ central dashboard, you can see your print operating costs, the number of pages printed, your environmental impact based on paper use, the number of users, device manufacturers, and different models. You can also see metrics regarding the number of color prints and single-sided versus double-sided volume. If certain employees are printing more than normal, these can be designated as outliers and the system can flag their activity.

You can also see graphs representing overall usage over time. Using this data, you can correlate printing activity with other business functions and discover both trends and opportunities to further optimize print performance.

Adhere to Local Data Privacy and Sovereignty Requirements

Data privacy laws have become more and more stringent in recent years, and while some industries are more directly impacted than others, virtually all companies have to be careful regarding which eyes see which documents. In addition, organizations may have internal data privacy protocols or concerns.

A cloud print management system that supports global data privacy and sovereignty policies makes it easy to manage either external or internal data security rules. This is because you don’t have to set up a separate cloud instance to meet data privacy or sovereignty requirements. In this way, it’s easier to conform to the regulations in your area, as well as adjust them as necessary.

Maximizing Cloud Print Advantages With Pharos

With Pharos Cloud, you get a bevy of features that make it easy to take advantage of all the benefits of cloud print management. Pharos provides you with cloud print analytics, interactive dashboards, touchless printing, end-to-end encryption, and the freedom to submit prints from anywhere. In addition, you get automatic updates, web-based administration, and end-to-end encryption to enhance security.

To see how Pharos Cloud can elevate your organization’s print management experience, request a personalized demo today.

Blueprint 5.4 Now Available!

We’re happy to announce the latest update to Blueprint Enterprise—the premier, on-premises print management platform helping corporate enterprises achieve cost savings, IT efficiency, enhanced security, and an intuitive printing experience. All Blueprint releases are developed with these tenets in mind, and Blueprint 5.4 is no exception, with several updates that improve the usability of the platform. Key enhancements with Blueprint 5.4 include:   

Analyst Migration Tool 

The Blueprint Analyst server is the central server to the Blueprint architecture, acting as a repository for all data collected by the platform and the single point from which all system-wide configuration settings are set. Blueprint 5.4 introduces a new Analyst Migration Tool that significantly reduces the time required to migrate an existing Blueprint Analyst server to a new server/operating system by connecting to your existing database and configuration settings (vs spinning up from scratch) and providing a migration path to cloud-based print management going forward.  

Set Supported Secure Release Models 

With Blueprint 5.4, Blueprint Administrators can now update their environment at any time to secure and support the latest printer models supporting Pharos’ embedded Sentry Print platform for a consistent user experience across their multi-vendor print fleet.  

Full Migration to .NET 6 Framework 

All Blueprint Enterprise 5.4 components now require .NET 6, Microsoft’s latest full stack web framework which brings performance improvements and productivity gains. Microsoft has either stopped supporting or has plans to stop supporting the earlier versions of .NET Core framework used in previous versions of the platform, however, Blueprint versions 5.3.7 and earlier will remain operational.  

For a complete list of enhancements in this release, please refer to the New Features Guide (PDF).  

Cloud Printing for Enterprise

Cloud print management has transformed the way we handle corporate printing environments. Cloud print management is a way of managing and controlling a corporate print environment from a cloud-based application, like Pharos Cloud.

Cloud printing enables your employees to print from (nearly) any connected device by sending print jobs to a network printer via the cloud.

It allows users to quickly discover printers and print from their own device without the need to set up driver installations.

Cloud printing software solutions eliminate the need for printer drivers and allows the printer or multi-function device to receive print jobs through an internet connection.

Additionally, cloud print management typically offers more advanced features and capabilities than traditional printing, such as the ability to track and monitor print jobs and control access to printers.

I remember the days when I had to install drivers on my computer just to get a printer to work, and those days are long gone, thanks to cloud printing software solutions. They’ve simplified how I manage printer drivers and made it possible for printers and multi-function devices to receive print jobs through an internet connection.

cloud printing with pharos

How is this different than traditional printing?

In contrast, traditional printing typically involves setting up and configuring local printers that are directly connected to a computer or network. This can be complex and time-consuming, and it can limit the ability of users to print from different devices or locations.

Cloud print management truly lightens the load on your organization’s IT teams. They no longer have to worry about security, infrastructure, maintenance, and upgrades, as cloud services take care of those burdens.

Cloud Hosted vs. True Cloud Print Management

Cloud hosted and true cloud print management are two different approaches to managing and controlling printing from cloud-based applications and services.

Cloud hosted print management refers to a print environment in which the print management software is hosted on a remote server and accessed via the cloud. This can provide some of the benefits of cloud print management, such as the ability to access and print from anywhere, and the ability to manage user access to printers. However, cloud hosted print management may not offer all of the features and capabilities of true cloud print management.

In contrast, true cloud print management refers to a system in which all aspects of the print management process, including the software, printers, and user access, are managed and controlled entirely via the cloud. This can provide a more comprehensive and seamless experience, with advanced features and capabilities, such as the ability to monitor and track print jobs, and control access to printers. True cloud print management can also offer greater flexibility and scalability than cloud hosted print management, making it easier to adapt to changing business needs.

True cloud print management means your organization is leveraging cloud services to take on the security, infrastructure, maintenance, and upgrade burdens that your internal staff would otherwise need to manage.

When your printing operations are leveraging the benefits of the SaaS business model, your IT teams have a lot less to worry about.

How IT Teams Leverage Cloud Printing

With cloud print management, you can easily tackle a variety of initiatives, including:

  1. Set up and configure cloud-based printers: You can easily set up and configure network printers, without the need for complex setup or configuration.
  2. Manage user access to printers: You can use cloud print management to control which users have access to which printers, and to set permissions for different users and groups.
  3. Monitor and track print jobs: Print tracking software can provide detailed information about print jobs, including the date and time of the print, the user who initiated the print, and the status of the print job.
  4. Control access to printers: You can use cloud print management to set up authentication and authorization controls to ensure that only authorized users can access and print from network printers.
  5. Save on printing costs: You can reduce the costs associated with printing, such as the need to purchase and maintain expensive printer servers and related equipment. Additionally, cloud-based printing can help reduce paper waste and save on the costs of consumables, such as toner and ink.
  6. Improve productivity and collaboration: You can enable your employees to print from any device, anywhere, which can help improve their productivity and make it easier for teams to collaborate and work together, even when they are not in the same location.

Is Cloud Based Print Management Difficult to Implement?

The difficulty of implementing cloud based print management can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the size and complexity of the organization, the number of users and printers, and the specific requirements and needs of the organization.

In general, however, cloud based print management can be relatively easy to implement, especially compared to traditional print management systems.

This is because cloud printing typically involves minimal setup and configuration, and can be accessed and managed from any device with an internet connection.

Additionally, cloud print management software support teams will offer support and assistance to help organizations with the implementation process. As a result, while there may be some challenges and complexities involved in implementing cloud based print management, it is generally considered to be a relatively straightforward and easy-to-use solution.

What Are the Benefits of Cloud Print Management?

Cloud print management software is used by a wide variety of companies and organizations, large enterprises, educational institutions, and government agencies. Any company or organization that has a need to manage and control their printing environment can benefit from using cloud print management software.

Some common use cases for cloud print management software include:

  • Companies with a distributed workforce that need to manage printers at multiple locations
  • Organizations with a high volume of print jobs that need to optimize their print infrastructure
  • Educational institutions that need to manage student printing
  • Government agencies that need to secure and control access to sensitive documents

Overall, print management software can be useful for any company or organization that wants to improve the efficiency, security, and scalability of their printing environment.

Improved efficiency

Cloud print management software allows users to access and manage their printers from anywhere, using any device with an internet connection. This can save time and improve productivity, as users don’t have to be physically present at the printer to initiate a print job or troubleshoot issues.

Centralized management: Cloud print management software provides a single, centralized platform for managing all of an organization’s printers. This can make it easier for IT staff to monitor and manage the print environment, as they don’t have to access multiple systems or devices to perform tasks.

Automatic updates and maintenance: With cloud print management software, updates and maintenance are typically handled automatically by the provider. This can save IT staff time and effort, as they don’t have to manually install updates or perform maintenance tasks on individual printers.

Improved troubleshooting: You can get real-time visibility into the status and performance of printers, making it easier for IT staff to identify and troubleshoot issues as they arise.

By providing centralized management, automatic updates and maintenance, improved troubleshooting, and enhanced security, cloud print management software can help to remove IT burden and improve efficiency for IT staff.

Enhanced security

Cloud print management software can help to secure print environments by providing features such as user authentication and access control. This can help to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive documents and protect against data breaches.

User authentication: Cloud print management software often includes user authentication features, like Secure Release printing, which require users to enter their credentials before they can access the system or initiate a print job. This can help to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive documents and protect against data breaches.

Access control: It can also provide access control features, which allow administrators to set permissions and control which users have access to specific printers or print jobs. This can help to prevent unauthorized access and reduce the risk of data breaches.

Encryption: Many print management providers offer encryption of data in transit and at rest, to protect sensitive information from being intercepted or accessed by unauthorized parties.

Activity logs: Cloud print management software often includes activity logs that record details about print jobs and user activity. This can help administrators to monitor for unusual activity and identify potential security threats.

By providing user authentication, access control, encryption, and activity logs, cloud print management software can help to improve cybersecurity and reduce network risks for large organizations.

Greater scalability

With cloud print management software, it is easy to add and remove printers as needed, without the need to purchase additional hardware or software. This can save money and make it easier to scale print infrastructure as the needs of the organization change.

Flexible infrastructure: With cloud print management software, it is easy to add and remove printers as needed, without the need to purchase additional hardware or software. This can save money and make it easier to scale the print infrastructure as the needs of the organization change.

Remote management: Cloud-based print management software allows administrators to manage printers remotely, using any device with an internet connection. This can make it easier to manage a distributed print environment, as administrators don’t have to be physically present at each location to perform tasks.

Automatic updates and maintenance: This software will typically handle updates and maintenance automatically, which can save time and effort for IT staff. This can be especially useful for enterprises with a large number of printers, as manual updates and maintenance can be time-consuming.

By providing flexible infrastructure, remote management, and automatic updates and maintenance, cloud print management software can help enterprises to scale their print environments efficiently and cost-effectively.

Why Cloud Print Management is Better for Large Organizations

Cloud print management is particularly well-suited for businesses with thousands of employees and distributed workforces because it can help improve efficiency and productivity, and enable the organization to grow and adapt to changing business needs. Some of the reasons why cloud print management is best for large businesses include:

  1. Increased flexibility and scalability: It offers a high degree of flexibility and scalability, which means that large businesses can easily add or remove printers and users as needed, without the need for complex setup or configuration. This makes it easy to adapt to changing business needs and grow the organization.
  2. Improved productivity: With cloud print management, large businesses can enable their employees to print from any device, anywhere, which can help improve their productivity and enable them to work more efficiently.
  3. Enhanced security: Cloud print management typically offers advanced security features, such as the ability to control access to printers and monitor print jobs, which can help protect sensitive information and prevent unauthorized access to printers. This is particularly important for large businesses, which may have more sensitive information and a larger number of users and printers.
  4. Cost savings: In large organizations, printing costs can balloon out of control if left unmanaged – cloud printing allows you to not only monitor and set policies for printing, it also helps reduce costs by eliminating the need for print servers, reducing the IT burden, and helping you maximize the utilization of your print fleet.

Overall, cloud print management can provide a range of benefits for large businesses, making it an attractive option for organizations that need to manage and control printing from cloud-based applications and services.

Prepare Your Printing Operations for the Future

Just as we’ve seen with the proliferation of software applications over the past decade, cloud printing is likely to involve continued growth and development of cloud-based technologies and services.

As more and more businesses and organizations adopt cloud-based applications and services, the demand for cloud printing is likely to increase. This could lead to the development of new and more advanced cloud printing technologies, such as more secure and reliable cloud-based printers, and improved print management and control features.

Additionally, the increasing popularity of mobile devices and the proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT) are likely to drive the adoption of cloud printing, as more and more users look for ways to print from a variety of devices and locations.

Overall, the future of cloud printing is likely to be characterized by continued innovation and growth, as businesses and organizations seek to improve their productivity and efficiency through the use of cloud-based technologies.

Read more about planning to migrate your print infrastructure to the cloud.

Reducing your organization’s expenses and IT workload has always been an important reason to leverage the SaaS model for your printing operations. Today, the number one concern of the IT pros is the need to provide safe and flexible printing options for employees while also improving data security. They like the idea of eliminating print servers and partnering with a company that shares industry best practices for securing printers and multi-function devices. They also appreciate that our touchless printing options have been proven in the market for years.

It’s important to remember that the top cloud application platform providers are Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, Google, and Apple. These are the best and most reliable technology companies in the world and they have the most at stake in terms of security and service availability for their customers—customers like Pharos.

We built the Pharos Cloud on Amazon Web Services (AWS), which gives our customers peace of mind. They know that one of the strongest and most reliable platforms in the world is helping to protect their printing data and output services. It’s a new era for print management, and Pharos is proud to be leading the way forward.

In conclusion, the future of cloud printing is bright and full of innovation. By migrating your print infrastructure to the cloud, you’ll be better prepared for the future and enjoy the numerous benefits that come with cloud print management. So, let’s embrace this new era of print management and start leveraging the power of the cloud.

PrintNightmare: Securing Your Print Infrastructure

Introduction

Since 2021, the “PrintNightmare” issue has become a topic of concern. This class of vulnerabilities affects Windows-based devices, including servers, desktops, and laptops. The vulnerabilities are found in the print spooler service, which is enabled by default and responsible for managing printers and printing documents. This article aims to explore the PrintNightmare problem, its implications, and long-term solutions to secure your print infrastructure.

The Print Nightmare Story

Understanding the Problem

In June of 2021, a vulnerability in Microsoft’s print spooler software, known as CVE-2021-34527 or “PrintNightmare,” was identified. This vulnerability allows remote network access to exploit the system, gaining privileged access rights and executing malicious code. It poses a significant risk as attackers can remotely control the affected system, potentially stealing sensitive data or disrupting operations.

Print Spooler Service: A Brief Overview

The print spooler service is responsible for managing printer connections and operations on Windows-based devices. It facilitates communication between the device and printers, ensuring compatibility by downloading and installing the required printer drivers. Additionally, it handles print jobs by organizing queues, prioritizing tasks, and buffering data into the printer’s memory.

Domain controllers also utilize the print spooler service for managing printers on a network. However, this introduces a security vulnerability, as any authenticated user can remotely connect to the print spooler service of a domain controller, compromising network security controls.

The print spooler service also allows Windows devices to act as print clients or print servers. While this ease of use is convenient, it grants privileged access to the print spooler service across the entire network, bypassing security controls and automatically updating printer drivers.

The Risk with PrintNightmare

The PrintNightmare vulnerability enables attackers external to the network to upload malicious code disguised as a Dynamic-link Library (DLL). This code can be executed with administrator privileges across the network, providing an entry point for further attacks and potential data exfiltration. The presence of proof-of-concept code circulating in the hacker community further exacerbates this risk.

Continuing Challenges

Although efforts have been made to patch the PrintNightmare vulnerability, new flaws in the Windows print spooler service continue to be identified. These vulnerabilities, such as CVE-2021-34481, pose critical risks, including local privilege escalation and potential Remote Code Execution (RCE) exploits. To mitigate these risks, it is recommended to temporarily stop and disable the print spooler service until all security patches are applied.

Long-Term Protective Measures Against PrintNightmare

Option 1: Patching and Praying

Keeping up with security patches for printer spooler service vulnerabilities provides a level of protection. However, the existence of well-resourced hackers who exploit vulnerabilities before patches are released poses a significant risk. Organizations must consider the potential consequences of falling victim to attacks targeting their intellectual property or sensitive information.

Option 2: Moving Print Services to a Secure Cloud-Based Solution

To effectively address the vulnerabilities introduced by Windows-based print servers, a long-term solution should eliminate the inherent weaknesses. Migrating print services to a secure cloud-based print management solution offers several advantages:

  1. Elimination of Printer Driver Management: Legacy communication protocols used by printer drivers often introduce security vulnerabilities. A cloud-based solution that eliminates the reliance on manufacturer drivers ensures secure connectivity by default.
  2. Improved Security Controls: By using a cloud-based service, the need for network-wide access and exceptions for print services is eliminated. This simplifies configuration and enhances overall security.
  3. Mitigation of Legacy Protocol Risks: Older operating systems rely on legacy print protocols that can be exploited. Cloud-based secure printing solutions enforce secure protocols, minimizing the risks associated with legacy support.
  4. Isolation of Print Functions: Dedicated print servers separate print functions from multi-use servers, reducing vulnerabilities and potential misconfigurations.
  5. Enhanced Encryption: Cloud-based secure printing solutions encrypt all print file transmission and storage, protecting against eavesdropping and unauthorized access.

Pharos Cloud: A Secure Solution

Pharos Cloud offers a serverless printing infrastructure that ensures secure and direct-to-printer workflows for businesses. By replacing Windows-based print servers with Pharos Cloud’s cloud-based print management solution, organizations can eliminate print spooler services, printer drivers, and associated vulnerabilities.

The benefits of adopting Pharos Cloud include:

  1. Reduced Attack Surface: Centralized cloud print management minimizes security risks by eliminating the need for print spooler services on every Windows-based device, including domain controllers.
  2. Simplified Security Configuration: Security software no longer needs to include print services in allow lists and exceptions, closing potential security holes.
  3. Robust Encryption: Pharos Cloud employs strong encryption algorithms to protect print job communications and data at rest, ensuring maximum security.
  4. Compatibility and Ease of Use: Pharos Cloud seamlessly integrates with existing infrastructure and does not require workstation or printer fleet upgrades. It simplifies administration tasks and improves the overall printing experience.

By adopting Pharos Cloud’s cloud-based serverless secure printing service, organizations can mitigate the risks associated with the PrintNightmare vulnerability and future vulnerabilities yet to be discovered. This solution offers compatibility, enhanced security, and reduced administrative workload, ensuring a win-win situation for businesses while thwarting potential hackers.

Conclusion

Securing your print infrastructure is crucial in the face of vulnerabilities like PrintNightmare. Organizations must consider long-term solutions that address the weaknesses of Windows-based print servers. Migrating to a cloud-based print management solution, such as Pharos Cloud, offers enhanced security, reduced attack surfaces, simplified administration, and robust encryption. By proactively adopting these measures, businesses can wake up from the PrintNightmare without sacrificing their printing capabilities and ensure a more secure future.

New Pharos Cloud Release Enhances IT and User Productivity

We’re happy to announce the latest release of Pharos Cloud, the proven cloud-based print management solution with the proven reliability, scalability and security required by the largest organizations. ​Pharos Cloud is designed to help organizations eliminate infrastructure to drive IT productivity, reduce printing costs, enhance security, and enable employees with convenient and intuitive printing—and the latest release is no exception. Key enhancements with this release include:   

Delegate printing for Pharos Secure Release 

Delegate Printing improves user convenience by enabling users to print documents on behalf of someone else for Secure Release workflows. A user can nominate other users (known as delegates) to release their jobs from any Pharos-secured device. For example, a Manager can ask their Assistant—or a remote employee can request a colleague that’s in the office—to print documents on their behalf. 

Enhancements to the MS Universal Print integration for Pharos Secure Release 

The November release of Pharos Cloud introduced integration with Microsoft’s Universal Print (MSUP) to enable secure print workflows for organizations utilizing the Microsoft 365 cloud-based print infrastructure. This month’s release enhances usability by adding finishing options (stapling, folding, booklet, and reverse-order duplexing) to MSUP print jobs.  

Group assignments for Pharos Direct Print Direct Print 

The previous release of Pharos Cloud introduced Pharos Direct Print, which enabled organizations to migrate their direct-to-printer workflows to the cloud. The latest release improves IT productivity by providing Administrators the capability to efficiently manage access to direct printers by enabling or disabling the ability of specific groups of users to find and add direct printers.  

Policy Print Reporting for Pharos Insights 

The previous release of Pharos Cloud also introduced Policy Print capability, which enables organizations to reduce printing costs by enforcing company print policies and educating users of mindful printing habits at the point of print submission. Policy Print supports Pharos Secure Release, Pharos Direct Print. This month’s release provides visibility into the cost savings organizations have achieved with Policy Print by including job data on cancelled or aborted jobs in Pharos Insights for reporting. 

Delete Button in Device Inventory tab 

A new “Delete” button allows Administrators to delete a Print device from their device inventory instead of requiring a Pharos representative to remove the device. A device must first be marked as “Out of Service” in order to be deleted. 

For a complete list of new features in this release, please refer to the release notes.  

Now available: Blueprint Enterprise 5.3 Update 7 Release!

We’re happy to announce the latest update to Blueprint Enterprise! Blueprint Enterprise is the premier on-premises print management platform for corporate enterprises, helping deliver cost savings, waste reduction, and enhanced security while managing an organization’s multi-vendor printer fleet. ​Update 7 provides enhancements that improve the user experience and security of Blueprint. Key enhancements with this release include:

Customized Sentry Print experience

Blueprint’s Sentry Print application embeds within multifunction printers to provide a common UI and consistent user experience across supported MFP models, regardless of printer manufacturer. The application operates as a layered interface above the printer manufacturer’s interface to provide print release and copy services. A consistent look-and-feel and user experience across all devices helps organizations with multi-vendor printer fleets to reduce the training required for employees. The new Blueprint release enables organizations to customize the Sentry Print UI to match the look and feel of your organization by updating the default logon screen with your company logo, colors, and custom text labels. A new UI mode allows administrators to control the user interface shown at a secured MFP and choose between the standard Sentry Print screen, MFP home screen, or automatically release documents via touchless printing.

Set pin code Expiry interval

To combat the rise in security threats and help keep their data safe, many organizations have adopted policies requiring employees to change their passwords regularly. When pin codes are used, the new Blueprint release helps enhance security by enabling Administrators to set a pin code expiry interval, between 15-365 days, requiring users to regularly reset their pin codes. When a pin code is within 7 days of expiring, users are alerted via customizable email that includes a link for them to easily update to a new pin code.

Improved monitoring

To improve system monitoring and the supportability of Blueprint, Device Scout has been added to the list of services checked by the Windows Service Health Test. If Device Scout is not installed on the system, the test will pass.

For a complete list of new features in this release, please refer to the New Features Guide (PDF).

Migrating Your Printing to the Cloud: 8 Questions to Ask

Migrating processes to the cloud had become one of the primary ways businesses streamlined operations, even before the COVID-19 pandemic hastened the pace. 2022 has seen this trend continue, with Flexera’s 2022 State of the Cloud report noting that year-over-year cloud spending for small and medium-sized businesses has increased—from 38% of total revenue in 2021 to 53% in 2022.

Migrating print services to the cloud is oftentimes an afterthought, as print systems and hardware can be ingrained as perennial in-office solutions. But this transition is speeding up as well. 2021 research by Quocirca found that two-thirds of respondents expected to adopt cloud print management by 2025, and 39% had already done so.

If you’re considering migrating your printing to the cloud, you’ll know that not all services are created equal. To find out which offering is best for you, there are some key questions you need to ask before pulling the trigger.

8 Questions to Ask Before Moving Print to the Cloud

#1. What are the benefits of moving to the cloud?

This question is more something you should ask yourself before you move any of your processes to the cloud, but your print management solution provider should have a good idea of the answer. If they don’t, they may not be the best option.

For most companies, cloud migration can streamline business and make scalability and growth easier in a number of ways. First is cost savings—a cloud printing system, for example, eliminates the cost of print server hardware and the human hours needed to maintain them. Next, security is improved with cloud migration, especially when it comes to print services. Moving to the cloud can also improve employee flexibility and productivity, improve speed-to-market, reduce data loss, and encourage collaboration across different offices and locations.

#2. Do print jobs get moved to or stored in the cloud?

For some organizations, storing print jobs in the cloud may be a concern. This question gets to the heart of security, and it’s the first question any savvy IT department should ask. In fact, at Pharos, we entertain this question in every presentation or demo.

Pharos Direct Print jobs do not go into the cloud—they are sent directly to the printer via IPPS/IPP. Job metadata is collected, encrypted, and sent to Pharos Cloud for analytics, but administrators have control over what information gets collected at a regional level to adhere to local data privacy and data sovereignty requirements.

Pharos Secure Release jobs can be configured to be stored either on-premises or in the cloud. Pharos Cloud protects data with end-to-end encryption and encrypts any prints jobs at rest that are awaiting release to a secured printer, leveraging industry standards.

#3. How do you secure the platform and data?

Printers and print infrastructure have been used as an attack vector by hackers, so any cloud-based solution should have security as its highest priority.

Pharos Cloud was built with a relentless focus on security. The cloud-native platform eliminates print server vulnerabilities, protects data with end-to-end encryption, and supports zero trust security principles. The platform has received an A+ rating using the Qualys SSL server test and undergone extensive vulnerability testing and examination from GreyCastle, a top security firm. There’s a reason why some of the largest organizations in the world trust it.

Pharos Cloud is a true cloud platform built on Amazon Web Services (AWS) to deliver a safe and scalable web application experience, and Pharos exclusively uses Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) providers that have achieved an SSAE 16 audit and ISO 27001 security certification covering all IaaS infrastructure and facilities. Additionally, Pharos Cloud uses a tiered application structure to isolate data within the cloud. Pharos conducts periodic vulnerability assessments in all production environments and throughout the development process.

#4. What reporting is available?

Printing has long been a mysterious area for many businesses, and it can be one of the biggest uncontrolled expenses companies face. Can the cloud solution provide you with actionable insights that help you maintain an efficient multi-vendor print fleet and identify opportunities for cost savings through modern and intuitive dashboards that can be customized?

Pharos cloud printing offers a robust analytics and reporting system, providing clarity into the key metrics of your entire print environment, job-level details on how prints are being created, insights to maintain an efficient multi-vendor print fleet, and outliers that could be opportunities for cost savings. Its modern and intuitive dashboards help visualize the key metrics behind a single pane of glass and allow administrators to drill down to individual devices, users, and print jobs—providing the actionable insights needed to optimize print and reduce costs.

#5. How does the solution support remote or hybrid workers?

One of the biggest advantages of migrating any system to the cloud is flexibility and supporting the mobility of your workforce. This is especially important now that the COVID-19 pandemic has made remote work widespread. Can the cloud solution enable your workforce to print wherever they work while providing you visibility, control and security?

Your cloud print provider should enable remote and hybrid employees to print wherever they work. All of this should be done with proper tracking and security in place.

Pharos Secure Release enables your hybrid workforce to submit prints from any network (i.e. home, company, cellular, public) and release them from any Pharos-secured printer on the company network.

#6. How does the solution improve productivity?

Part of the reason to migrate to the cloud is to improve efficiency and productivity, both for end users and IT. Besides eliminating print servers, how else will a solution reduce burden on your already-strained IT staff?

Not all cloud platforms are created equal. Pharos Cloud print solutions lessen the burden on IT by eliminating vendor driver management, automatically discovering devices, and auto-populating them in the cloud system. Pharos Cloud also reduces burden on IT with a self-service approach that enables employees to add print devices or invite guests/contractors to print without engaging IT.

#7. How does the solution reduce costs?

Not only should your cloud print management service streamline operations, but it should reduce your print costs as well. Well-designed cloud platforms should leverage your existing multi-vendor print fleet, provide actionable insights to maintain an efficient print fleet and quickly identify outliers, and enable you to create policies that restrict what employees can print and educate them on mindful printing habits

#8. How is the platform or offering going to position me for the future?

It’s clear that the future of business involves cloud solutions in a big way. Many traditional on-premises solutions are already out-of-date, and soon those solutions will become completely obsolete. You want to know that your cloud print provider is continually evolving and active, not just throwing you into an automated cloud du jour system that will itself grow stale as technology evolves.

Pharos has a clear vision for the future and a legacy of innovation. A regular cadence of updates introduces new innovations and capabilities such as Print-at-Home, touchless print release, guest printing, data privacy, and regional document storage to help you support your changing printing requirements. Pharos Cloud enables support for the office print environments of today and prepares for those of tomorrow.

From On-Premises Print Infrastructure to the Cloud: What to Expect

Traditional, on-premises print infrastructure has always been somewhat cumbersome and time-consuming to maintain, and recent technological developments have further underscored the need for a more convenient and reliable solution. Both digital transformation and the need for more secure platforms have driven companies to transition printing to the cloud. But after you decide to make the shift, what should you expect? 

Read on to learn what you can expect as you move from an on-prem print infrastructure to the cloud. 

What to Expect When Moving Print to the Cloud 

When moving print management to the cloud, you can expect considerable benefits stemming from: 

  • Eliminating print infrastructure
  • Gaining visibility into your entire print environment
  • Driving IT productivity
  • Supporting remote and hybrid users
  • Enhancing security

Elimination of Print Infrastructure and Fast Deployment 

One of the biggest changes involved when transitioning from on-premises to the cloud is the elimination of print servers. With a traditional print server, you shoulder the costs of hardware and software, as well as the resources required to support their maintenance and operation. Servers come with costs and management issues and are time-consuming for IT to maintain and update. With a cloud-based platform, you eliminate the upfront costs and time spent maintaining and upgrading them. In addition, because there’s less reliance on on-premises hardware, deploying cloud solutions is generally faster. 

Visibility Into Your Entire Print Environment 

A cloud-based platform enables you to easily centralize print operations. When print is decentralized, you don’t have visibility or insight into all the printing that’s occurring across the enterprise. This means you have no idea of the true print costs, what devices are under- or overutilized, who the individual and department outliers are in terms of costs, or what’s the best way to maintain an efficient fleet. With a cloud print management solution, you can easily and quickly discover print devices and gain visibility across your organization to gain the actionable intelligence needed to maintain an efficient fleet and reduce printing costs. 

For example, you could leverage the print data you collect to: 

  • Gain instant insight into high-level key print metrics and track to custom targets for your entire organization
  • Spend less time recording meter reads and more time focusing on preventative action
  • Monitor device volumes and utilization trends to recognize changes in your print environment
  • Explore top cost outliers (users, departments, and applications) to identify opportunities to automate workflows or reduce unnecessary expenses

Increased IT Productivity 

Well-designed cloud platforms not only eliminate print infrastructure, they’re also designed to be intuitive and easy-to-use—reducing the burden on your already strained IT staff. Cloud-based platforms enable administrators to manage their entire print operations from a web browser to easily secure printers, create and manage print policies, monitor fleet status, and view comprehensive analytics. 

In addition, well-designed systems eliminate the time-consuming hassle of vendor driver management with a “universal” print driver. With only a single package that supports thousands of printer models across all manufacturers—from low-volume printers to high-volume, multifunction devices, these systems require only a fraction of the administrative overhead of traditional driver management, simplify printing for employees with a common user interface, and reduce troubleshooting vectors for Help Desk staff.   

Support Remote and Hybrid Users  

The global pandemic changed the way people work. Migrating print to the cloud allows organizations to better support their increasingly mobile and remote workforce. A well-designed cloud platform will allow organizations to support remote employees and hybrid workforce with the ability to submit print jobs from any network (even their mobile devices) and print them at any secured printer on the company network. 

Enhanced Security 

The increasingly remote workforce and the recent PrintNightmare vulnerabilities have highlighted the importance of including print as part of an organization’s overall security strategy. Well-designed cloud platforms are designed with a relentless focus on security and don’t rely on common attack vectors including print servers and insecure protocols (RAW and LPR printing), protect data with end-to-end encryption, improve document security with secure release workflows, and support zero trust security principles. 

Reduced Printing Costs 

Migrating your print infrastructure to the cloud enables your organization to considerably save on costs. For example, you can conserve funds by: 

  • Eliminating costly print servers: Print servers also come with soft costs such as time spent managing hardware and software, electricity costs, data security costs, and physical storage costs.
  • Eliminating the need to buy new printers: Well-designed cloud solutions support multi-vendor print fleets, so you can leverage your existing print fleet. Even if you change printer manufacturers, you don’t need to switch print management platforms.
  • Leveraging print analytics: Using comprehensive analytics, you can discover ways to identify under/overutilized printers to drive efficiency in your printer fleet, and view job-level details to discover cost outliers and opportunities for workflow automation.
  • Creating and enforcing print policies: Well-designed cloud platforms will enable administrators to create and enforce company print policies (i.e. restrict color printing or local printing) and educate users of mindful printing habits (i.e. notification that suggests printing 2-sided or notifying if the document exceeds X pages) at the point of print submission to reduce printing costs.

Cloud Print Infrastructure with Pharos

For every question here, your cloud print management provider should not only have an answer, but have the best answer and be able to give you everything you need and more. From security to flexibility to enhanced productivity, migration to cloud printing should be a major improvement for your business. Pharos Cloud is a comprehensive, secure, and flexible cloud-native print management platform that will help you step into the future.

Pharos Cloud platform is comprised of the following products:

  • Pharos Insights provides the actionable intelligence you need to optimize your print environment and reduce costs.
  • Pharos Direct Print migrates direct-to-print workflows into the cloud to streamline  your print environment by removing print servers and vendor driver management.
  • Pharos Secure Release enables employees to submit prints from across platforms, from any network, and to any Pharos-secured device on the company network. It prevents sensitive documents from being left unattended by requiring owner authentication to release the prints.

When you’re ready to take the next step and see just how beneficial migrating your printing to the cloud can be, contact Pharos and request a personalized demo of Pharos Cloud.