How to prevent data breaches when using multi-function devices

By: IT Donut contributor

Date: 4 April 2016

Multi-function devices{{}}IT professionals working in all sectors need to fully understand and take steps to reduce the threat presented by data breaches. You’re probably already fairly savvy in terms of the risks presented by computers and networks, but can you say the same in your efforts to reduce the risks presented by networked multi-function devices (MFDs) in the workplace (ie those that print, scan, fax, copy and email)? 

Such machines present a particular threat due to the number of potential breach situations they can account for. Each time a sensitive document is processed electronically, whether by scanning, printing, copying or sending via fax or email, it is at risk of either being accidentally revealed to unauthorised eyes, or intentionally compromised.

Multi-function copiers are now standard in offices of all sizes in the UK, so all businesses should pay attention to these risks and take the necessary precautions. Here are some key steps you should take to reduce and prevent MFD data breaches. 

  1. Implement user authentication. To keep your data secure, you need to be able to track its use. Only by using user authentication on MFDs can you do this. Anonymous use is unsafe use. 
  2. Audit network activity. User authentication will give you the tools you need to manage data and track down breaches, but you must also implement a system of centrally auditing all network activity. By having an audit log you can immediately identify the source of the breach and take corrective action.
  3. Restrict access as appropriate. Specify individually which users have access to specific functions of the MFD, according to their job specification, seniority or role.
  4. Encrypt your data. To maintain the integrity and security of data transmitted to or from your MFD and computers, servers and other devices on your network, it is important that you encrypt all data flowing in either direction.
  5. Monitor and control activity related to secure documents. By monitoring data as it flows through your network you can spot breaches as they occur, or prevent them entirely.
  6. Use rule-based printing. Rule-based printing requires the user to be present at the machine with a keycard or password, preventing documents from being inadvertently left at the printer, or falling into the wrong hands.
  7. Enforce trusted network destinations. To prevent data being sent to wrong or unauthorised numbers or addresses, you may wish to restrict its transmission to pre-authorised destinations.

By using these steps to protect against data breaches, you can prevent not just your own data and that of customers, but also the financial penalties and costs that may otherwise result from a breach.

Sponsored post, copyright © 2016 Nuance, experts in business and technologies. Follow the link to find out more about MFD security solutions.

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