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What is Coming off Your Printer?

By Peter Davey

Approximately 30% of print jobs are never retrieved by the person who printed them. Talk about a waste of paper and toner, not to mention possible security issues. Think about how many times you walk past a printer and see stacks of printouts sitting in the output tray or on top of the machine

I remember back when people printed banner pages and I would see the same person’s name all over the printer. Sometimes people hit the print button, get distracted and forget they printed something. It’s even worse if they wind up printing it again minutes or hours later.

What about the problem of printing confidential documents and leaving them in the output tray? Anyone could come along and grab them. Since lots of people forget they printed something, this may happen more often than you realize. If the information on the document is personally identifiable information (PII), customer data or your financials, this could become serious. After awhile these unclaimed printouts wind up in the trash.

I recently heard a story about people in office cleaning companies rummaging through the trash looking for valuable information. Dumpster Diving to find valuable documents is nothing new, but criminals and people engaged in corporate espionage are taking it to new heights. If some of the 30% of unretrieved print jobs that find their way into the trash have confidential information, this could be easy pickings for identity thieves and those wishing to find corporate secrets. Unfortunately these types of problems are more prevalent in a down economy where people are looking to pick up an extra buck.

Another possible problem is cleaning people finding confidential printouts sitting in output trays or next to printers. Just like with a disgruntled employee or someone looking for an edge in business, this is an area where confidential information can leak. It’s even worse if the printer is sitting in a high traffic area, like an office lobby. Anyone that walks through could grab a printout and walk out the door with valuable information.

The issue here is that confidential documents sitting in output trays, on top of printers and in the trash can be a security threat to your organization.

One of the best ways to address the security and cost is to implement pull printing or Secure Release. This makes sure that a print job is not actually put on paper until a person walks up to the printer, authenticates and releases the job. It also lets you print the job on a device that is physically convenient to you.

You can submit a print job and release it when you get to the device. You can type a PIN into the panel of an MFP or swipe a smart card to release the job. If you never pick up your output, you haven’t wasted any paper or toner. Unreleased jobs are eventually deleted by the system. If you have to print a confidential document to a shared network printer, you no longer have to jog to the printer to claim your printout before someone else reads it. The job will wait for you.

This reduces the temptation by employees and anyone walking around to go snooping to see what they can find – out of sight, out of mind. If a person has to key in a code before a printer will print, your office just became more secure. And saving money isn’t a bad thing either. So how do you cut 30% of your printing cost and protect confidential information?

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