Cloud printing is a great way to streamline your printing processes while reducing hardware, network, and maintenance costs, but any technology connected to the cloud poses certain security risks. Let’s take a look at what cloud printing is exactly, the risks associated, and what your organization can do about them.
What is cloud printing, and what’s so great about it?
The difference between cloud printing from traditional printing is that it does not require the printer to be directly connected to the devices or network that is sending it print jobs. Instead of your computer sending a print job through a connected office network, it sends it to a cloud print server. From there, any cloud-connected printer can service the job regardless of where it is.
So, instead of having a printer on every floor of your building, you can get by with just one that can handle jobs from anywhere. Or, you can send jobs to the cloud to be printed off-site to where it is needed. These and many other features of cloud printing make it more efficient and cost-effective than traditional printing.
What are the risks involved with cloud printing?
Because you are sending print jobs over the internet, your data is in transit and therefore theoretically vulnerable to interception. If you use a public cloud platform, your data will be at rest in data centers that are outside of your control, further increasing risk.
What’s more, because the printer may be at a different location than the sender of the job, there is a risk that someone besides the intended recipient could gain access to the printed documents. Alternatively, a malicious actor could simply steal login credentials and gain unauthorized access from anywhere, because cloud printing, by its nature, is not tied to a location.
What can my organization do to mitigate these risks?
Here are some cloud printing best practices that you can implement to reduce or eliminate the unique risks associated with it.
Implement a private cloud infrastructure
Much of the risk brought on by cloud printing comes from the fact that data is sent to, retrieved from, and stored in public data centers. By implementing a private cloud infrastructure, i.e. one that only your organization has access to, you eliminate many of these risks. However, this can be quite expensive, so be sure to consider the benefits and your budget carefully.
Encrypt data both in transit and at rest
If you are operating on a public cloud platform, encryption will mitigate the risks that come with it. Use secure communication protocols (e.g., SSL/TLS) to encrypt data while it moves between devices and the cloud servers. Similarly, employ encryption techniques to protect data stored in the cloud against unauthorized access. Your cloud or IT services provider can assist you with these matters.
Employ rigorous authentication methods
To prevent unauthorized access to your cloud printing service, implement multifactor authentication and single sign-on. To prevent unauthorized access to your printed documents, implement a secure release on your printers, which requires the recipient of the document to authenticate their identity before the document is released.
Monitor and restrict printer use
You can further protect against unauthorized access by monitoring what is being printed and by whom, as well as restricting who can print in the first place. This can be done through the cloud print service’s central dashboard.
The work doesn’t stop even after implementing cloud print security tools and best practices. To stay ahead of evolving threats, make sure your printing and overall network infrastructure are up to date with the latest security upgrades and patches. You should also regularly conduct security and penetration testing as well as employee security training to ensure you’re ready for what comes next.
A managed print solutions provider like Complete Document Solutions can help you set up and carry out these initiatives if you lack the time and expertise to do so yourself. Just leave our team a message.