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Document security isn’t just protecting against hackers

What would it mean to your workplace if your secrets were revealed? Not by a hacker, mind you, but by a humble sheet of paper.

Bear in mind it’s not always malicious intent that’s the biggest threat to document security. It’s often the most trusted people in your organization who unknowingly leave documents where they shouldn’t be left.

Sound unlikely? Perhaps you’ll recall the government official accidentally leaving classified documents behind on a train .

Or the Department of Homeland Security employee who left anti-terrorism documents in the seat pocket of a plane .

That won’t happen to you, you say? What about your finance admin leaving payslips forgotten on the printer? Yes, it happens.

While billions of dollars are rightly invested by businesses to lock down their systems from external attacks, information on paper is the often-overlooked and weakest link in any information security chain.

Just ask the Australian Government, left reeling recently after the Cabinet Files incident - the largest information breach in its history. Hundreds of classified documents turned up in filing cabinets sold at a second-hand store . Imagine if that was your company. What would be the impact if your financials, customer details, or competitor intel ended up in the wrong hands?

You can implement the tightest print policies imaginable using a PaperCut solution, but if you don’t have a policy about how you and your team manage paper that’s been printed, you have a potential security weakness.

Let’s assume you don’t have a spy working in your midst, planning to sneak sensitive documents out and sell them to your competitors. Instead, let’s talk about the more likely scenario of securing the printouts of absent-minded employees.

How to secure print jobs

Let’s look at some quick wins you can implement to ensure better print security in your workplace.

How secure is your workplace?

First, let’s find out whether you have a print security problem.

Check what documents are sitting in the recycle bin next to your printer. Is there anything in there that could potentially get into the wrong hands? Why was it printed and abandoned?

Can you educate your employees to take an extra second to question whether something needs to be printed at all?

Watermarking and digital signatures

If a document does need to be printed, do you want to track it back to a team or individual? It means you can find the source of a leak or security breach. Plus, the user will feel a sense of responsibility for each document printed. After all, their name’s printed on it!

We’ve found that even just having employees know that docs can be traced back to them is very effective in changing their behaviour.

Print logs and archiving determine who is printing what, and whether it is appropriate. They can certainly help you narrow down and identify who printed a document to a particular location.

Taking these steps will tighten your print security environment after a document has been printed. Meanwhile, education about the dangers the humble piece of paper can cause to your business is an ongoing process of cultural change for you and your team. Good luck!


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