What is secure biometric printing

16. March 2012 06:40 by Calvin Yu in Technology News  //  Tags:   //   Comments

Biometric Finger ScannerSecure printing is usually a term reserved for such high-security jobs as printing banknotes, identification, passports, and financial certificates, but many businesses print documents that have just as much a need for security measures as any of these. Secure printing does not simply mean printing documents so they cannot be forged, it also means printing documents so that they do not fall into the wrong hands. Printing is one area where security is often lax. Firewalls and network security only protects data from unauthorized computer-to-computer transmission. It does not stop someone from simply printing documents and walking out the door with them.

Too many businesses in high-security industries such as finance, healthcare, government and education perform their printing on standard printers with no security measures in place. Most of these businesses should be doing just the opposite by rigidly controlling who can operate printers and what information can be sent to them. The best way to accomplish this feat is through secure biometric printing.

The Need for Secure Biometric Printing
Printers are often the largest security gap in companies that store sensitive data. Data security experts estimate that up to 30 percent of documents that are sent to the printer are left there and available for anyone to gather. In addition, most printers are left unprotected, so anyone inside the company can change their settings and reroute sensitive documents to accessible printers. Another way data is stolen from printers is from the printer memory. Oftentimes, recent print jobs are stored in printer hard drives and can be accessed by anyone.

Allowing secure documents to fall in the wrong hands has a number of consequences for a business. At the top of this list is legal liability. Lawsuits are won each year against companies who could have prevented data theft. In some industries, companies who let sensitive data slip out are subject to government fines for industry violations. Many businesses could also lose thousands or millions of dollars in profit if corporate secrets, customer databases or marketing strategies fall into the hands of the competition.

The need for secure biometric printing is real and can be monetized. Protection from losses caused by security breaches is available today at very reasonable prices.

How Secure Biometric Printing Works
Secure biometric printing is not a solution within itself, but it is part of a full secure printing system. Secure printing begins with standard security protocols. Restricting physical access to printers, securing local area networks, requiring passwords and encrypting sensitive data are all strategies that can help secure printing, but much more is still required.

Even if security protocols are observed, it is still necessary to secure printing hardware. Multifunction printers are notorious for their lack of security, but they can be buttoned down by making sure they are coupled with devices to control who can access and use them. Some companies use password access, while others use security cards. However, passwords can be broken, and security cards can be lost or stolen. The only fully secure method of controlling access to printers is through biometrics.

Biometric security is the use of unique physical traits to control access to devices. Biometrics can include DNA matching, face recognition, voice recognition and eye scans. However, the simplest form of biometric security is a standard fingerprint reader. Secure biometric printing using a password and fingerprint combination is seen as the most practical form of printer security currently available. Fingerprints cannot be forged, making them very secure, and fingerprint scanners are among the most affordable pieces of biometric equipment on the market.

Once the hardware is installed, all that is necessary for secure biometric printing to work is to scan the fingerprints of those who are cleared to use the printer and enter their passwords. After setup is complete, only the people whose fingerprints and passwords have been loaded will be able to use the printer for any purpose.

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