The Print Security Landscape, 2023 Report by Quocirca

The Print Security Landscape, 2023 report by Quocirca

Quocirca’s Global Print Security Landscape 2023 report highlights continuous security challenges for organisations, with 61% experiencing at least one print-related data breach in the past year. By delving into this report, readers can gain comprehensive insights into the evolving landscape of print security, including understanding the discrepancies between key stakeholders’ perspectives, which is instrumental in developing effective strategies to strengthen their own organization’s print security and mitigate potential risks.

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Print Drivers: Overcoming Challenges in the Modern Enterprise

Managing print drivers has long been a challenge for large organizations with diverse, multivendor printer fleets.

IT teams must constantly update and maintain print drivers and queues, all while ensuring security and compliance.

This article discusses the challenges of print driver management, the different approaches organizations can take to simplify this process, and how Pharos Cloud can provide a comprehensive solution.

The Challenge of Print Drivers

In traditional print environments, employees’ computers connect to printers through print servers and shared print queues. Each queue hosts a specific printer driver, which must be updated every time a vendor releases a new version. This process can be time-consuming for IT staff, especially in large organizations with multivendor fleets.

Print drivers can also pose a security risk due to the way Windows handles driver deployment in point-and-print networks. Many manufacturers’ drivers utilize insecure protocols like SNMP, which are vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks, potentially compromising server integrity and allowing for lateral movement and privilege escalation across the network.

Read More: Why Print Drivers Are Becoming a Nightmare for Corporate IT

Different Approaches to Simplifying Driver Management

There are several approaches companies have taken to alleviate the burden of print driver management:

Universal print drivers

These drivers enable users to print to a wide range of devices using a single driver. While they simplify driver management and provide a consistent user experience, they often do not support the full feature set of device-specific drivers and may produce artifacts if not fully compatible with a printer. Most manufacturers’ universal print drivers support their own printers well but are not able to support a multi-vendor fleet found in most organizations.

Driverless printing

This method does not require any printer-specific software or data to be installed on a client. Users can submit print jobs through various means, such as direct application printing, using standards such as IPP Everywhere or AirPrint, send print jobs as email attachments to an assigned email address or upload the print job to a printer from a web browser. Driverless printing eliminates the need for driver management but may not support older printers or vendor-unique capabilities.

Print driver management software

These solutions centralize driver management in a single repository, easing the process of creating print queues, deploying printers, and enforcing default settings. However, IT staff still rely on vendor drivers and face the security challenges of the traditional print workflow.

Pharos Cloud: A Comprehensive Solution

Pharos Cloud simplifies driver management by reducing the number of print drivers that need to be managed.

Pharos utilizes a truly “universal” driver built on the IPP-Everywhere™ standard.

Traditionally, most “universal” print drivers offer only basic functionality with users often experiencing variations in performance and compatibility issues depending on the manufacturer. Based on the open standard developed by the Printer Working Group, Pharos’ print driver is more capable than traditional “universal” print drivers by providing a consistent experience and behavior across a multivendor fleet, and most devices available in the market today. It also allows users to access and utilize a wider range of printer capabilities that have been defined within the IPP standard (i.e., paper size selection, stapling, N-up, etc.).

Pharos Cloud Direct Print also allows administrators to load manufacturers’ print drivers into Pharos Cloud to support advanced workflows. With Pharos Cloud, organizations can deploy our advanced IPP-Everywhere™ driver to most users and manufacturers’ drivers only where needed, reducing the number of drivers to be managed.

Enhanced Security with Cloud Printing

One way print drivers are vulnerable to cyberattacks is that they require implementation as a shared resource, due to the way that Windows handles driver deployment in point-and-print networks. Print driver files are stored on a server and clients request them.

Many vendor drivers use SNMP for print queue configuration. SNMP and other commonly used protocols are insecure and vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks through file replacement, proxy monitoring, or other means—providing attackers the ability to compromise the integrity of the server and the base for lateral movement and privilege escalation across the network.

Pharos’ approach to managing drivers is more secure than other print management solutions, as it does not rely on the inherently insecure Windows printing environment.

Pharos Cloud only uses Windows as an on ramp to get the print job into our system, and all print traffic and network communications occur over secure, encrypted channels. The zero-trust workflow supported by Pharos Cloud means that only employees who are properly configured in the system can submit print jobs to a desired location printer. The Windows print spooler is not able to broker the communication with a printer like Pharos Cloud is able to.

At the End of the Day

The challenge of print driver management is a significant burden on IT staff in large organizations. However, solutions like Pharos Cloud offer a secure and efficient way to manage print drivers while maintaining a consistent user experience. By adopting such innovative solutions, organizations can overcome the challenges of print driver management and enhance their overall security posture.


Learn More About Pharos’ IPP Everywhere Print Driver




Now available: Blueprint 5.4 Update 1!

We’re happy to announce the latest update to Blueprint Enterprise, the premier on-premises print management platform trusted by large corporate enterprises to deliver cost savings, reduce waste, and enhance security while managing an organization’s multi-vendor printer fleet. ​Blueprint 5.4 Update 1 provides enhancements that improve the Sentry Print and administrative experience of the platform. Key enhancements with this release include: 

Print device credentials enhancement 

Blueprint 5.4 Update 1 enhances security and drives IT productivity with the ability to regularly update printer security credentials​ for a large number of printers at a single time via bulk import from both the Administrator UI and Print Center.  

Sentry Print supported device list 

Customers are now able to download and import the latest Sentry Print enabled printer models database from the Pharos Community (requires Pharos Community login). Sentry Print models are automatically updated to the most current list, enabling organizations to support and secure new Sentry Print models immediately with Blueprint without requiring manual entry or waiting for a new Blueprint update.  

Sentry Print theming updates 

The latest Blueprint update also improves usability and reduces confusion by maintaining an organization’s custom theming—colors, logos, text—on print devices’ Sentry Print screen in the event there is a connection outage.  

Improved monitoring 

The Print Center, Sentry Print, MobilePrint, and other Blueprint services make web calls to the Pharos API. A new Pharos API Status health test has been added to improve system monitoring and troubleshooting for problems related to API communications.  

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

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.

New Pharos Cloud Release Drives User and Admin Productivity

Pharos is excited to announce the latest release of Pharos Cloud, the comprehensive cloud-based print management solution proven to meet the scalability, security, and high-availability requirements of the largest organizations. ​Pharos Cloud is designed to help organizations eliminate infrastructure, drive IT productivity, enhance security, and enable employees with convenient and intuitive printing—and this release is no exception. Key enhancements with this release include:    

New manufacturer support for secure scanning 

The September release of Pharos Cloud introduced secure scanning capabilities to the platform, enabling users to securely digitize and share documents by scanning to email and OneDrive on Ricoh MFPs. This release adds secure scanning capabilities to Canon (pending certification), HP, KM, and Toshiba MFPs—and provides users with an intuitive and consistent scan experience across the different manufacturers. In addition, Scan to Network Folder has been added as a new scan destination on all MFPs supporting secure scanning.     

Enhancements to Pharos Direct Print 

In January, Pharos simplified the driver deployment and management experience for PCs. The latest Pharos Cloud release makes it easier for users to locate and add nearby printers on Chrome OS workstations based on their location. A new enhancement also makes it easier for Administrators to manage print queues by having the ability to modify and bulk edit multiple print queues at a time (vs. one at a time).  

New Pharos Cloud Status page 

A new Pharos Cloud Status page will provide customers with full transparency into the status of Pharos Cloud by:​ 

  • Displaying real-time status and historical data about Pharos Cloud system uptime ​ 
  • Alerting on scheduled maintenances and service interruptions ​ 
  • Providing updates on current efforts and anticipated results ​ 

For a complete list of new features in this month’s Pharos Cloud release, please refer to the release notes.   

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.