Data protection and security: switch off hardware as a weak point

Multifunctional printing systems are an integral part of the company-wide document workflow. Since sensitive data is also stored on these devices, safety precautions must also be taken to protect sensitive data for multifunction printers.

For over a year now, the GDPR has been in force and data protection more important than ever. While all PCs in a company that have access to the network and thus also to the data stored there are generally protected against unauthorized access, this is not always the case with multifunctional printing systems (MFPs, multifunctional printers).

They can also access the company network and also have a hard drive on which all print jobs – and thus also sensitive data such as medical records, criminal charges or tax notices – are stored. Therefore, they should also be protected by appropriate safety precautions. But what exactly should these arrangements look like?

Regulate access

The question of who has access to an MFP is of central importance. This access is regulated in a first step by user management. This determines who can access the multifunction printer and to what extent.

As a rule, MFPs have a freely configurable network interface with which access from computers can be restricted. To ensure secure transmission over the network, communication to and from the MFP should take place via SSL / TLS.

Secure MFP hard drives

The safety precautions on the device itself are just as important. Effective encryption of the hard disk of an MFP is essential, since it stores countless highly sensitive data.

However, security measures are not only important when using an MFP, but also after it has been decommissioned. The fact that personal data is stored on the hard disk even after the return of a leasing device, for example, is often neglected.

In order to prevent sensitive information from remaining on the hard drive, MFPs should have a mechanism that automatically resets the devices to the factory settings after the lease term has expired. The hard disk is overwritten with random data up to ten times. This also deletes all saved IT settings and address books.

Protect documents

The paper output of MFPs is not to be underestimated. Printed data can easily be stolen – even unintentionally – and fall into the wrong hands. To ensure that each employee can only print out their own print jobs on the MFP, there is the so-called call-off print function. Users have to authenticate themselves to the corresponding MFP so that the printed information is never left unattended in the print tray.

Automatic tracking

If the company’s own MFPs are equipped with the appropriate security settings, the risk of data leakage is significantly minimized. Despite everything, there is a possibility that security settings willfully be changed. A function to permanently check all user activities is therefore very important. This allows you to track when which settings were changed and which IP addresses had access to the device.

For institutions with particularly high security requirements, an integrated data security option in accordance with the Hardcopy Device Protection Profile v1.0 (HCD-PP v1.0) can also be useful. This worldwide security standard is used in government and military institutions, for example.

Individual configuration

However, HCD-PP is not necessary for a normal company. Since every company needs an individual security level, it is advantageous if MFPs can be configured accordingly when they are purchased, depending on the respective requirements.

In addition to all technical factors, the human aspect is also of central importance. Since employees are often very poorly aware of the threat situation, continuous awareness-raising work and raising awareness of risks in this area are essential.

Today MFPs are an elementary part of the company-wide document workflow. It is therefore more important than ever to ensure that information and network security are sufficient here.

If some fundamental aspects are observed, MFPs and thus business processes and sensitive data can be effectively protected with manageable effort.

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