Pharos Secure Release Technical Overview

Pharos Secure Release: Technical Overview

Pharos Secure Release enables a print workflow that enhances document security, reduces overall print costs, and lowers environmental impact by requiring users to authenticate at the device to release submitted print jobs.

With Pharos Secure Release, employees submit print jobs from a workstation or mobile device on any network (company, home, public, cellular, etc.) to a single cloud-based print queue and release the print jobs at any Pharos-secured print device on the company network by authenticating at the device.

A cloud-based secure print workflow reduces waste and data leakage through print by preventing documents from being left abandoned at the printer or picked up before the user can retrieve them.

Download the Pharos Secure Release Technical Overview to learn how it works.

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Cloud Print Services, 2023 report by Quocirca

Cloud Print Services, 2023 report by Quocirca

Cloud print services and solutions encompass serverless printing, cloud-based print management and remote monitoring, and hybrid cloud print management platforms, which may be managed internally or by third-party managed print services (MPS) providers.

Cloud print services may also include other adjacent services and solutions around digitization, workflow, security, and collaboration.

This report highlights key market trends for cloud print services, covering offerings from both manufacturers and independent software vendors (ISVs). It draws on primary research conducted by Quocirca in 2023.


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The Cost of Print-Related Security Breaches is on the Rise

The Cost of Print-Related Security Breaches is on the Rise

Quocirca, a global market insight and research firm, recently published its annual Print Security Landscape 2023 study, finding increasing concerns around the risks of printing, and declining confidence in the ability to protect the print infrastructure against security breaches.

Findings included:

  • 61% of organizations experienced a print-related data loss in the previous year
  • 27% of IT security incidents relate to paper documents
  • Only 19% of enterprises (1,000+ employees) are completely confident that their print infrastructure is protected from security breaches and data losses
  • 70% of organizations say printing will remain critical or very important to their business over the next year
  • 79% of organizations expect their print security spend to increase over the next year

Quocirca also included recommendations for buyers and suppliers of print infrastructure and services, noting that “Pharos stands out for its strong focus on security across both its on-premise and cloud platform, its proven expertise in supporting the complex and high-availability requirements of large enterprises, and a mature approach to zero-trust security….Pharos is a good choice for large enterprises looking to take advantage of a secure, cloud-based infrastructure while still benefiting from traditional secure print functionality. Along with functionality to support printing in the home environment and secure scanning, Pharos is currently one of the more fully featured print management platforms.”

As Quocirca identified, we at Pharos take security seriously and consider it an integral and foundational part of our company and solutions. We went through the rigorous process of achieving ISO 27001 certification to demonstrate our continued commitment to information security at every level, and to ensure our customers that the security of their data and information has been addressed and properly controlled.  It’s no wonder that we have been identified as a market leader in print security, and why some of the largest and most security-conscious customers in the world—including those in Healthcare, Banking, and the Defense industries—trust us to enhance the security of their print infrastructure.

To read an excerpt of the Quocirca Print Security Landscape 2023, click here.

Join us at Gartner Digital Workplace Summit on June 12 in San Diego

Join us at Gartner Digital Workplace Summit on June 12 in San Diego

Transform your organization’s printing strategy! Don’t miss our upcoming webinar, where Pharos Chief Marketing Officer, Josh Orum, will unveil the secrets to conquering high printing costs and limited resources that plague businesses worldwide.

Discover the cutting-edge strategies that will transform your print environment, as Josh delves into these topics:

  • Embrace Print Optimization: Shift from mere print management to a dynamic, optimized strategy that covers printing holistically, improving employee experience while slashing costs.
  • Unleash Print Security Power: Integrate print into your information and cybersecurity strategy, fortifying your organization against potential threats.
  • Harness the Cloud for Enterprise Success: Explore how large enterprises can unlock the true potential of cloud technology for dial-tone reliability and enhanced IT efficiency.

Don’t miss this electrifying discussion that will empower you to drive IT and cost efficiency in your organization’s print environment. Witness the future of enterprise printing – reserve your spot now!

Conducting a Print Audit with Pharos Insights

Request a printer fleet audit with pharos insights - Get Started

Managing print costs and efficiency in an organization can be a challenging task. By using Pharos Insights, you can quickly gain valuable data and insights into your organization’s printing habits, making it easier to optimize costs and streamline operations. In this blog post, you can read a brief summary of what it looks like to conduct a print audit with Pharos Insights, as well as the ease of setting up the software and the valuable information it can provide.

Why Conduct a Print Audit with Pharos Insights?

A print audit can help you identify opportunities to reduce costs and improve efficiency in your organization. By focusing on printer size, location, and user behavior, you can make informed decisions about the right balance of printers and their features. Moreover, evaluating the age and efficiency of your printers can help you determine if replacing older models with newer, more cost-effective options is a wise decision.

Pharos Insights makes conducting a print audit a breeze, allowing you to gather data quickly and objectively. The software scans your entire network and collects information about your printers, providing an aggregated view of your organization’s printing habits. This data can help you make more insightful decisions about printer optimization, rather than relying on guesswork.

Setting Up Pharos Insights

Setting up Pharos Insights is easy and fast. Within 10 minutes, you can have the software installed on a server, scanning your network for printers. Once installed, the software runs automatically in the background, collecting data about your printers and their usage. In about a day, you can log in to the web interface and start seeing the collected data.

Here are some details from Pharos’ professional services team:

“Within a day, you can have the software installed and collecting information about all your network printers inside your environment.

It’ll find printers you know about, and it’ll likely find printers you don’t know about, because there are probably printers out there connected that you’re unaware of.

And when I say a day, it’s really only about 10 minutes to get installed, but within a day, you’ll be able to log into the interface and see data collected. So don’t take that as a full day of work.

This utility will scan your entire network, find all those network printers, and capture meters, supplies, and usage. It’s automated in the sense that it runs on a schedule, so you don’t have to log in and execute or kick off the scans. They happen automatically.

The intent is that this is just silently happening in the background, gathering data that gets aggregated and displayed to you through a web browser. That information will be aggregated automatically in the cloud.You’ll be able to access it through a dashboard via a web interface, and you’ll be able to start immediately understanding what print is happening from a fleet perspective.

So, one app gets installed on a server, it scans your whole network, and as I say, within a day you’re starting to capture information about all your network printers.”

Measuring the Impact of a Print Audit

By running a print audit with Pharos Insights, you can expect to measure various aspects of your organization’s printing habits, including:

  • The number and size of printers.
  • User behavior and the types of documents printed.
  • The age and efficiency of your printers.
  • The cost of maintaining existing printers compared to replacing them.

Taking the time to analyze this data can lead to cost savings and improved efficiency by allowing you to make informed decisions about printer placement, employee-to-device ratios, and the appropriate mix of printer features for your organization’s needs.

What Does Your Print Data Tell You: A Quick Report on Customer Research

We built the Pharos Cloud print management platform to make it easy for organizations to identify opportunities to save money and improve efficiency. To achieve these goals they first need to understand the state of their device fleet and get clarity on the people and groups who print. As we were building the platform, we also knew that what really matters is how this clarity can inform decisions and help our customers implement a successful print strategy that yields continual benefits.

To better understand all of this we engaged several of our early adopter customers. With permission to view their Pharos Insights data, we identified outliers and trends specific to their environments. The Pharos team produced reports for these customers and we asked for their feedback and ideas to help us make the application serve their needs even better.

Pharos Insights provides summary dashboards, detailed data grids, and data exploration tools that bring key metrics and outliers to the surface. We identified several interesting trends. Two observations that stood out to us involved fleet composition and device utilization:

Fleet composition: We learned that our customers typically have a device fleet that includes 10 or more different manufactures and more than 200 different models. These numbers alone demonstrate the inherent complexity in managing such a fleet. Normally, such a complex fleet composition leads to increased supply chain and inventory costs, increased administrative and service costs, increased likelihood of toner outages, and increased IT support requirements.

Device utilization: This is another important metric that’s easy to access in Pharos Insights. Looking at device utilization rates across these early adopter customers, we saw that on average, 28% of print devices had produced 200 pages or less over a 30-day period. Low device utilization rates typically correlate to a higher total cost of ownership (TCO) as well as increased cost per page (CPP). If you have an expensive device that isn’t being used often, is the device really necessary? Can it be allocated elsewhere?

Within minutes of a simple installation, you can begin to see your organization’s print environment in your web browser.

Every printing device draws energy, has an IP address, requires toner and paper, and involves hidden costs, including resource time for maintenance and supplies. Low device utilization rates can also reveal excess capital tied up in the fleet, unnecessary administrative overhead to handle invoices, and more print server configuration and management costs than is necessary. Seeing this data makes it easy for customers to identify opportunities to reallocate devices and eliminate others to increase utilization rates and reduce TCO.

Another interesting observation from the Insights data is that most customers are over-invested in device features. The data revealed that color printing represented a small percentage of overall printing (between 8-15%). This is good for keeping CPP low, but on average, 50% of the device fleet were color-capable devices. This typically reveals that purchasing decisions were not optimally tied to actual user needs. Over time, this unnecessary capacity translates to unnecessary costs.

We also found that printing with large paper sizes represented a tiny percentage of overall printing activity—less than 1% on average—but the majority of the fleets had large paper capability. Again, unnecessary features means unnecessary costs. To achieve a truly optimized print environment you must first understand it. For this you need clear, comprehensive and objective data on all devices and users. Only then can you design a fleet arrangement that matches the actual needs of your users and begin to implement a successful print strategy.

At the End of the Day

Pharos Insights is an invaluable tool for organizations looking to optimize print costs and efficiency. By conducting a print audit, you can gain a comprehensive understanding of your organization’s printing habits, allowing you to make data-driven decisions about printer placement, features, and maintenance. With its easy setup and robust data collection capabilities, Pharos Insights is an essential tool for any organization looking to optimize its printing operations.

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.   

Looking at 2023 and Beyond: Pharos Vision

Rethinking Enterprise Printing: Pharos Vision for 2023 and Beyond

Transform your organization’s printing strategy! Don’t miss our upcoming webinar, where Pharos Chief Marketing Officer, Josh Orum, will unveil the secrets to conquering high printing costs and limited resources that plague businesses worldwide.

Discover the cutting-edge strategies that will transform your print environment, as Josh delves into these topics:

  • Embrace Print Optimization: Shift from mere print management to a dynamic, optimized strategy that covers printing holistically, improving employee experience while slashing costs.
  • Unleash Print Security Power: Integrate print into your information and cybersecurity strategy, fortifying your organization against potential threats.
  • Harness the Cloud for Enterprise Success: Explore how large enterprises can unlock the true potential of cloud technology for dial-tone reliability and enhanced IT efficiency.

Don’t miss this electrifying discussion that will empower you to drive IT and cost efficiency in your organization’s print environment. Witness the future of enterprise printing – reserve your spot now!


Read the Q&A Session Followup Responses Here


Secure Printing Solutions to Safeguard Your Sensitive Documents

In the digital age, the importance of secure printing cannot be overstated. With the rapid proliferation of technology and the increasing reliance on electronic communication, businesses and organizations must take additional measures to protect their sensitive documents and confidential information from unauthorized access. Despite the shift towards paperless offices, hard copies of critical data still play an essential role in many industries, such as finance, healthcare, and legal services.

The consequences of unsecured printing can be dire. Security breaches resulting from the mishandling of printed documents can lead to data leaks, financial loss, reputational damage, and even legal penalties. Moreover, cybercriminals are continually seeking new ways to exploit vulnerabilities in printing environments, making it more critical than ever to implement robust secure printing solutions.

In this context, secure printing involves deploying strategies and technologies designed to safeguard sensitive information throughout the entire printing process. This includes measures to prevent unauthorized users from accessing print jobs, securely storing printed documents, and maintaining a comprehensive audit trail of all printing activities. By embracing secure printing practices, businesses and organizations can protect their valuable assets, comply with industry-specific regulations, and instill confidence in their clients and partners that their information is being treated with the utmost care.

Understanding Secure Printing

Secure printing refers to the process of protecting sensitive documents and confidential information from unauthorized access during the printing and handling of physical copies.

It encompasses various strategies, technologies, and best practices designed to ensure that only authorized personnel can access, retrieve, and view the printed materials. Secure printing solutions can include features such as user authentication, print release, data encryption, audit trails, and reporting. 

By implementing secure printing measures, businesses can minimize the risk of data breaches, comply with industry-specific regulations, and enhance their reputation for maintaining the highest standards of data security.

Why secure printing is crucial for businesses

In today’s highly connected world, businesses of all sizes must prioritize data security to protect their valuable assets and maintain their clients’ trust. While many organizations have taken steps to secure their digital environments, they often overlook the potential vulnerabilities in their printing processes. Secure printing is crucial for businesses for several reasons:

Protection of Sensitive Information

Whether it’s financial data, customer records, or proprietary research, businesses handle a wealth of sensitive information every day. Ensuring the security of this information extends beyond digital files and includes the printed documents that employees and stakeholders rely on for various tasks.

Compliance with Industry Regulations 

Many industries, such as finance, healthcare, and legal services, have strict regulations in place to protect consumer data and maintain confidentiality. Secure printing is essential for businesses to comply with these regulations and avoid costly fines and legal penalties.

Maintaining Reputation and Trust 

A data breach caused by unsecured printing can damage a company’s reputation, erode customer trust, and even result in the loss of business. By implementing secure printing solutions, organizations can demonstrate their commitment to protecting sensitive information and fostering a culture of security.

Prevention of Insider Threats 

Employees, contractors, and other insiders can pose significant risks to an organization’s data security. Secure printing measures can help prevent unauthorized individuals from accessing, copying, or distributing sensitive documents, reducing the likelihood of data leaks or theft.

Common threats in printing environments

Several threats can compromise the security of printed documents in a business environment. Some of the most common risks include:

Unauthorized Access

Without proper security measures in place, unauthorized users may access sensitive print jobs and view or distribute confidential information. This can happen when an employee prints a document to a shared printer and walks away, leaving the document unattended and vulnerable to theft.

Print Job Interception

Cybercriminals can exploit vulnerabilities in a networked printer to intercept print jobs as they’re transmitted from a computer to the printer. Once intercepted, the attacker can steal, alter, or even reroute the print job to a different location.

Printer Storage Breaches

Modern printers often have internal storage that retains a copy of printed documents. If the printer’s storage is not properly secured or wiped, cybercriminals can access these documents and retrieve sensitive information.

Document Disposal

Improper disposal of printed documents can lead to security breaches. Confidential information can be exposed if discarded documents are not shredded or otherwise destroyed in a manner that prevents unauthorized access.

Social Engineering Attacks

Attackers may use social engineering tactics to manipulate employees into providing access to sensitive print jobs or to reveal information about an organization’s printing processes. For example, an attacker may pose as a technician or a colleague to convince an employee to release a print job without proper authentication.

Insecure Mobile Printing

With the rise of mobile devices and remote work, employees increasingly print documents from their smartphones or tablets. If mobile printing is not secured, sensitive data can be exposed during transmission or when the document is printed.

To mitigate these risks and ensure the security of printed documents, organizations must invest in comprehensive secure printing.

Essential Features of Secure Printing Solutions

A robust secure printing solution helps organizations protect sensitive information, comply with industry regulations, and maintain the trust of their clients and stakeholders. To be effective, a secure printing solution must include a range of features designed to safeguard data at every stage of the printing process. The following are five essential features to consider when evaluating secure printing solutions:

User authentication

User authentication is a critical component of secure printing solutions, as it ensures that only authorized individuals can access and print sensitive documents. There are several methods of user authentication, including (but not limited to):

Username and Password

Users must provide a unique username and password combination to access the printing system. This method is simple to implement but can be less secure if users share their credentials or fail to create strong passwords.

ID Cards and Badges

Physical ID cards or badges embedded with magnetic stripes, barcodes, or RFID chips can be used to authenticate users at the printer. This method is more secure than relying on usernames and passwords, as it requires users to possess a physical token.

Mobile Authentication

With mobile authentication, users can use their mobile devices to scan a QR code displayed on the print device, which then sends a verification request to a secure mobile app. Once the user confirms their identity within the app, the print job is authenticated, and the document is released. This method is convenient, as it leverages the user’s mobile device, which is typically always at hand, and adds an additional layer of security by requiring the user to confirm their identity through the mobile app.

By implementing user authentication, organizations can prevent unauthorized access to sensitive print jobs and maintain control over who can print specific documents.

Secure print release

Secure print release is another vital feature of secure printing solutions. It ensures that printed documents are not left unattended at the printer, where they can be easily accessed by unauthorized individuals. Secure print release requires users to confirm their identity at the printer before a document is printed, either by entering a unique PIN or using an ID card, badge, or biometric authentication method.

Some secure printing solutions also offer “pull printing” or “follow-me printing” functionality, which allows users to send print jobs to a centralized queue and release them at any compatible printer within the network. This feature not only enhances security by ensuring that users are present when documents are printed but also improves efficiency by reducing the occurrence of unclaimed or duplicate print jobs.

Data encryption

Data encryption is essential for protecting sensitive information as it’s transmitted from a user’s computer to the printer. Secure printing solutions should employ robust encryption protocols, such as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS), to encrypt print jobs and prevent unauthorized access during transmission. Additionally, some solutions offer encryption for the printer’s internal storage, ensuring that any residual data stored on the printer is protected from unauthorized access.

Audit trails and reporting

Comprehensive audit trails and reporting capabilities are essential for monitoring and managing secure printing environments. Audit trails record all printing activities, including details about the user, the document, the printer, and the time and date of the print job. These logs can be invaluable for identifying potential security breaches, investigating unauthorized access, and ensuring compliance with industry regulations.

Reporting tools can analyze audit trail data to provide insights into printing patterns, identify potential areas of concern, and help organizations optimize their printing processes. Reports may include information on user activity, printer usage, print volumes, and security incidents. By regularly reviewing and analyzing these reports, organizations can proactively address potential vulnerabilities and continually improve their secure printing practices.

Mobile printing security

With the increasing prevalence of mobile devices and remote work, secure mobile printing has become a crucial component of any comprehensive secure printing solution. Mobile printing security involves protecting sensitive data as it’s transmitted from smartphones or tablets to the printer, as well as ensuring that only authorized users can access and print documents from their mobile devices.

To achieve secure mobile printing, organizations should consider the following:

Use of Secure Printing Apps

Encourage employees to use secure printing apps that support encrypted data transmission and require user authentication. These apps help maintain the same level of security as printing from a desktop computer while offering the convenience of printing from mobile devices.

Mobile Authentication

With mobile authentication, users can use their mobile devices to scan a QR code displayed on the print device, which then sends a verification request to a secure mobile app. Once the user confirms their identity within the app, the print job is authenticated, and the document is released. This method is convenient, as it leverages the user’s mobile device, which is typically always at hand, and adds an additional layer of security by requiring the user to confirm their identity through the mobile app.

Network Security

Ensure that the wireless network used for mobile printing is secure, using encryption protocols such as WPA2 or WPA3. Additionally, consider segmenting the network to separate mobile printing traffic from other network activities, reducing the risk of unauthorized access.

Device Management

Implement mobile device management (MDM) solutions to control access to corporate resources, including printers, from mobile devices. MDM can help enforce security policies, monitor device usage, and remotely wipe data from lost or stolen devices.

Training and Awareness

Educate employees about the risks associated with mobile printing and the best practices for maintaining security. This includes using secure apps, authenticating print jobs, and following the organization’s mobile device policies.

By incorporating these strategies, organizations can enable secure mobile printing while maintaining the same level of data protection as traditional printing methods.

Pharos Secure Release

Pharos Secure Release is a feature of Pharos Systems’ print management solutions that ensures printed documents are only accessible to authorized users. This feature adds an extra layer of security to the printing process by requiring users to authenticate themselves at the printer before the documents are released for printing.

By implementing Pharos Secure Release, organizations can prevent sensitive or confidential documents from being left unattended at the printer, reducing the risk of unauthorized access or information leaks. The feature can be used in conjunction with various authentication methods, such as PINs, ID cards, or mobile devices, to provide a secure and convenient printing experience for users.

Key Features

Pharos Secure Release, as a part of Pharos Systems’ print management solutions, offers several features designed to enhance the security and efficiency of the printing process:

User Authentication

Secure Release requires users to authenticate themselves at the printer before their print jobs are released. This can be done using various methods, such as PINs, ID cards, or mobile devices, ensuring that only authorized users can access and print sensitive documents.

Print Job Encryption

Pharos Secure Release helps protect print jobs by encrypting the data as it is transmitted from the user’s computer to the printer, ensuring that sensitive information remains secure during transmission.

Pull Printing or Follow-Me Printing

Secure Release allows users to send their print jobs to a centralized queue, which can be accessed from any compatible printer within the network. This feature not only enhances security by requiring user presence at the printer but also improves efficiency by reducing the occurrence of unclaimed or duplicate print jobs.

Audit Trails and Reporting

Secure Release provides comprehensive audit trails and reporting capabilities, allowing organizations to monitor printing activities, identify potential security breaches, and ensure compliance with industry regulations.

Integration with Print Management Solutions

Pharos Secure Release seamlessly integrates with Pharos Systems’ print management solutions, offering a unified and secure printing environment for organizations.

By implementing Pharos Secure Release, organizations can significantly enhance the security of their printing processes, safeguard sensitive information, and maintain the trust of their clients and stakeholders.

Pros and Cons

Pharos Secure Release offers various benefits and potential drawbacks for organizations looking to improve their printing security. Here are some pros and cons to consider:

Pros

Enhanced Security: By requiring user authentication at the printer, Pharos Secure Release helps prevent unauthorized access to sensitive print jobs, reducing the risk of information leaks.

Improved Efficiency: With pull printing or follow-me printing features, Secure Release can help minimize unclaimed or duplicate print jobs, leading to cost savings on paper, ink, and overall printer maintenance.

Compliance: Secure Release’s audit trails and reporting capabilities allow organizations to monitor printing activities, ensuring compliance with industry regulations and internal policies.

Integration: Pharos Secure Release integrates seamlessly with Pharos Systems’ print management solutions, creating a unified and secure printing environment.

User Convenience: Users can send their print jobs to a centralized queue and release them from any compatible printer within the network, making the printing process more convenient and flexible.

Cons:

Implementation Costs: Organizations may need to invest in upgrading their existing printer infrastructure and implementing Pharos Secure Release, which could entail initial costs.

Learning Curve: Users might need some time to adapt to the new printing workflow, requiring training and awareness programs to help them understand the authentication process and the benefits of Secure Release.

Compatibility: In some cases, Pharos Secure Release may not be compatible with legacy printing environments or specific printer models, necessitating further investment in compatible hardware.

Dependency on Authentication Methods: The security of Pharos Secure Release depends on the chosen authentication method. For example, if users share their PINs or lose their ID cards, the system’s security could be compromised.

Overall, Pharos Secure Release offers significant benefits in terms of security, efficiency, and compliance. However, organizations should carefully consider the potential drawbacks and ensure that their chosen authentication methods and hardware infrastructure are compatible with the solution.

How to Choose the Right Secure Printing Solution

Evaluate your organization’s needs

Before selecting a secure printing solution, it’s essential to understand your organization’s specific requirements. Consider factors like the size of your company, the number of users, the sensitivity of the documents you handle, and any industry-specific regulations you need to comply with. This evaluation will help you identify the critical features and security measures required to address your organization’s needs effectively.

Compare features and pricing

Once you have a clear understanding of your needs, compare different secure printing solutions based on their features, capabilities, and pricing. Look for solutions that offer essential features like user authentication, secure print release, data encryption, and audit trails. Ensure the pricing structure aligns with your budget and offers a good balance between cost and functionality.

Considering scalability and future growth

As your organization grows, your secure printing needs may change. Therefore, it’s crucial to choose a solution that can scale with your business. Opt for solutions that can easily accommodate an increasing number of users, devices, and locations without requiring significant investment in infrastructure or additional software licenses.

Assessing compatibility with existing infrastructure

The chosen secure printing solution should be compatible with your organization’s existing IT infrastructure, including hardware, software, and network configurations. Compatibility ensures a smooth implementation process and minimizes potential disruptions to your daily operations. Check for compatibility with your current printer models, operating systems, and any other relevant technologies in your environment.

Prioritizing user-friendliness and customer support

A secure printing solution should be easy to use for employees, as this encourages adoption and minimizes the risk of security breaches due to user error. Look for solutions with intuitive interfaces and straightforward authentication processes. Additionally, prioritize solutions that provide reliable customer support through various channels like phone, email, and live chat. This ensures that you have access to help when needed, making it easier to address any issues or concerns that arise during implementation or ongoing use.

Choosing the right secure printing solution involves evaluating your organization’s needs, comparing features and pricing, considering scalability, assessing compatibility, and prioritizing user-friendliness and customer support. By carefully considering these factors, you can select a solution that effectively safeguards your sensitive information while offering a convenient and efficient printing experience for your employees.

Implementing a Secure Printing Solution

A secure printing solution is vital for protecting sensitive information within an organization. This process involves creating a comprehensive policy, training employees on best practices, and continuously monitoring and updating the security measures in place.

Developing a secure printing policy

Identify sensitive information

Begin by identifying the types of information that need protection, such as financial data, customer information, or intellectual property. This will help you determine the appropriate security measures for different types of documents.

Define access levels

Establish different access levels based on job roles and responsibilities. Ensure that only authorized personnel have access to sensitive documents, and implement a user authentication system, such as card readers or biometric scanners.

Encryption

Encrypt sensitive documents during storage and transmission to prevent unauthorized access. Make sure your printers support secure data encryption and use encrypted communication protocols like SSL/TLS.

Secure printing features

Use printers with built-in secure printing features, such as pull printing or secure release. These features require users to authenticate at the printer before their documents are released, minimizing the risk of sensitive information being left unattended.

Document disposal

Implement a policy for secure disposal of printed documents, which may include shredding or using secure recycling services.

Training employees on secure printing practices

Educate employees

Regularly provide training sessions on secure printing practices, highlighting the importance of protecting sensitive information and the potential consequences of mishandling documents.

Best practices

Teach employees how to use secure printing features, such as selecting the appropriate settings on their devices and authenticating themselves at the printer.

Reporting incidents

Encourage employees to report any suspicious activity or security breaches related to printing, and provide clear instructions on how to do so.

Monitoring and updating your secure printing solution

Regular audits

Conduct periodic audits of your secure printing solution to ensure compliance with your policies and identify potential vulnerabilities.

Update software and hardware

Keep your printers and related software up-to-date to protect against newly discovered security threats. This includes installing firmware updates, patches, and security updates as they become available.

Monitor usage

Track printer usage and document access to detect unusual patterns or unauthorized access. Utilize printer logs and access control systems to monitor user activity and maintain a secure printing environment.

Review and adapt

Regularly review your secure printing policy and practices, and make adjustments as needed to address new risks or changes within your organization. Stay informed about the latest developments in secure printing technologies and best practices to ensure ongoing protection of your sensitive information.

By following these steps, your organization can implement a secure printing solution that protects sensitive information and minimizes the risk of security breaches. Regular training, monitoring, and updates will ensure the continued effectiveness of your secure printing policy.

Getting Started with Secure Printing

Secure printing is essential for protecting sensitive information within an organization, preventing unauthorized access, and ensuring compliance with data privacy regulations. By implementing a secure printing solution, you can safeguard your company’s valuable data, maintain customer trust, and avoid costly breaches or legal consequences.

Investing in a secure printing solution is a crucial step towards a comprehensive information security strategy. The potential financial and reputational damage resulting from mishandled sensitive information far outweighs the initial investment. A secure printing solution not only offers peace of mind but also demonstrates your organization’s commitment to data protection and compliance.

Now is the time to take action and explore secure printing solutions that suit your organization’s needs. Begin by evaluating your current printing environment, identifying potential vulnerabilities, and researching available technologies and best practices. Consult with experts or vendors specializing in secure printing to find the right solution for your organization, and take the necessary steps to safeguard your valuable data from potential breaches. Don’t wait until it’s too late; act now to protect your organization’s sensitive information.