With the number of documents that flow through your law firm on a daily basis, the majority of your files are likely confidential. Tax information, insurance details, client financial data, medical information, criminal backgrounds, depositions, evidence—all of these records get printed at some point.
Printers are so ubiquitous that most firms don’t realize they are also a security risk. But today’s printers are advanced, and many are fully-fledged networked computers. Protecting your clients’ information falls under Confidentiality of Information, whether it is a digital file or a paper file.
Here are four ways to ensure that your firm’s printing environment is safe by implementing secure printing best practices:
1. Start with a printer policy update
Few companies require their employees to sign a “printer policy”. But at law firms, this approach creates a liability. Employees use their desktop printers, or communal multi-function printers, on a daily basis without thinking about the possibility of a network breach via these connected devices.
How often have you gone to pick up your printout only to find multiple documents left in the printer tray or sitting nearby? These documents could easily be viewed or carried off by someone malicious, creating a security risk. Law offices should fortify their employee best practices with printer policies. Your printer policy update should start with a document workflow assessment to determine whether your current printer setup is meeting your needs for efficiency and security.
2. Restrict printer access with passwords
It is important to control who has access to printers in your firm. Establishing printer passwords is simple IT security method for your firm, and an effective way to ensure that no one is able to print documents that are waiting in your printer queue.
In addition to protecting documents, printer passwords help protect the machines themselves. Without passwords, anyone on your firm’s network can not only print to the machine, but also control it and change the settings. Establishing printer passwords is critical for any modern office, but is especially prudent for law firms.
3. Implement secure pull printing
Pull printing is one of the most secure ways for law firms to handle document printing. Pull printing holds a user’s job on a server until the user manually releases it at the printing device itself.
How does this system make printing more secure? It requires you to be present at the machine in order to release your print job by putting in a password or PIN—and we already know from step two above that law firms should be restricting their printer access by using passwords.
Let’s say, for example, that you want to print out a contract on the multi-function printer down the hall. With pull printing, you would send the contract to the printer’s hard drive via an encrypted connection, walk up to the machine, punch in your PIN, and watch your contract roll off the presses. You would then immediately pick it up and take it with you, of course, because of the printer policy you established in step one!
4. Perform all necessary updates and patches
Just like your firm’s computers, your printers need to be updated regularly in order to function as securely and efficiently as possible. Updates can add new or improved security features, patch holes, and fix other issues. Be sure that your IT team checks for firmware updates on all printer and network devices as part of your regular patch management schedule.
As PCs and servers become more secure through tougher standards, attackers will turn to unprotected network devices such as multi-function printers. The best way to ensure the security of printer fleet is through your managed services provider (MSP). They can configure the proper settings as well as handle the necessary firmware updates and patches. To get stated with implementing secure printing for your law firm, contact SymQuest today.