Who's been looking at your docs?

Many businesses spend a great deal of time, money and effort securing their servers and PCs against hackers and others who are bent on nabbing confidential business - but many of them are still putting their data at risk with their imaging and printing devices.

Many of the documents your company tries so hard to protect from electronic access will eventually pass to a printing or imaging device - and in doing so, there are a number of ways they can fall into the wrong hands.

Modern printers contain memory and even hard disks - both of which are full of your company's vital business information. And if they're attached to a network, they're at the same risk as your PCs.

Data loss doesn't just harm your business, providing valuable insights to competitors. It's also bad for your reputation - not to mention the risk of fines and other penalties if you breach data protection regulations by losing customer details or other private infromation.

To protect your data, look for printing systems that enable data to be encrypted when it's sent to printers and imaging devices using IPSec. That way, it can't intercepted en route.

You can also employ user identification systems to make sure than only authorised people can output documents. You can also use these to restrict who can print what, and from which applications - helping you to cut down on printing costs too.

But even when your documents have been sent to the printer securely, there's no guarantee they won't be printed and then forgotten by the original user, or left to be picked up by unauthorised members of staff.

You can avoid these security risks by going for a 'pull printing' system that only prints documents when the authorised user visits the printer and identifies themselves with a PIN number or swipe card, and secure your data by wiping the files from your printers' hard disks after printing.

This article was brought to you as part of THINQ's Business Printing Hub in association with HP.