Information Security

5 questions you should be asking your print provider

Quentyn Taylor
Quentyn Taylor

Director of Security, Canon EMEA

Do you have a printer in your main office workspace? The chances are that you do. And the chances are that you use it. Fairly regularly. So, choosing a print provider is far more important than you might think. Every sheet of paper comes with a cost. That cost could be material or environmental impact, but it could also be thought of in terms of a data breach. In other words: it’s important. You don’t want to sign up for a long-term relationship with a print provider without knowing what they stand for and what they can offer. When evaluating your current partner or looking for a new one, these questions will help you find the right fit for securing your business.

1. What can you offer me that no-one else can?
You need to ask any potential provider about the long-term benefits they can bring to your business. Ask them what they can offer that no-one else can, how they will work to drive efficiency and how they will make you more secure.

2. Do you have a complete security ecosystem?
It’s easy to forget that a networked printer or multifunctional device is basically a computer. It’s just as connected as a laptop. It has a server. It processes and produces confidential and sensitive output, so it can be compromised. And if it can be hacked, then it needs to be protected. Print security has multiple layers encompassing the device, the network and the documents they produce. So, ask your print provider about its security ecosystem: expect and demand a comprehensive response.

Business woman discussing her print requirements
Can your print provider meet all your security requirements?

3. Can you help secure my total solution?
You may think that you are only responsible for your goods once they’re shipped to you and sitting in your office. But that’s not true. Actually, from the very moment you’ve struck up a deal and those devices are being configured to your network, they are your responsibility. So, it’s crucial that you ask your provider for pre-sale support. Can they talk you through your decisions? Can they offer configuration advice? Can they provide a hardening guide and discuss it with you? Remember: real life and hardening guides often clash, so don’t accept an agreement and assume that’s all your print provider has to do. Ask them probing questions around security and if it doesn’t feel right, walk away. After all, nobody cares about your business’s security more than you.

4. Can you help with education and training?
It doesn’t matter how good your security is, where there’s human interaction, there’s potential for mistakes. Your staff may be your greatest protection against a threat, but they can also be your greatest weakness. And you have no way of controlling that 100% of the time. Upwards of 30% of print security incidents involve the accidental actions of users. So, ask your print provider if they will help with educating and training your staff on best practice and the correct security procedures. If they won’t, I’d advise you to look elsewhere.

5. Can you be part of my security infrastructure?
Don’t just look at what you can get from your print provider, but what they can give you. Do your due diligence. Run a comprehensive security assessment of what you are planning to purchase and check out everything from your authentication options to encryption. Ask about their tools: can they integrate into your data loss prevention system or your security incident management system? Ultimately, you want to know: are these printers going to be part of my security apparatus or my security problem? And that’s a question well worth answering in advance.

Find this and more security insights in my video series on the Canon Europe YouTube channel.

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