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Hybrid working exposes organisations to increased print security risks

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Quocirca’s latest study analyses the views of 531 IT decision-makers (ITDMs) from SMBs, mid-sized organisations and large enterprises based in the US and Europe. The findings reveal that organisations are struggling to keep up with the print security demands of the hybrid workplace. Workers continue to rely on print and the distributed nature of the print infrastructure has expanded the risk environment. As a result, print related data losses are frequent but, despite 53 per cent of respondents saying security is a top priority, few businesses have implemented key print security measures.

Key findings include:

  • Printing remains critical or very important for 64 per cent of organisations. 44 per cent of IT decision-makers expect office print volumes to increase and 41 per cent think home print volumes will rise over the next twelve months.
  • 68 per cent have experienced data losses due to unsecure printing practices. Each breach has cost an average of £631,915, with SMB customers suffering the biggest impact from customer loss due to a breach.
  • 53 per cent say they are finding it harder to keep up with print security challenges and demands. This rises to 61 per cent among CIOs, compared to 44 per cent of CISOs.
  • Only 26 per cent feel completely confident that their print infrastructure will be secure when offices fully reopen. This rises to 37 per cent among managed print service users, who are also more likely than other respondents to say that keeping up with print security challenges has grown easier.
  • Only 28 per cent of ITDMs are very satisfied with their print suppliers’ security capabilities. However, this rises to 42 per cent among those that use a managed print service

Complacency over print security

53 per cent of respondents say that IT security is a general priority for the coming year but print infrastructure security specifically is lower on the agenda, coming in behind concerns such as cloud or hybrid application platforms, email, public networks and traditional endpoints.

Quocirca Research Director Louella Fernandes cautions against overlooking print infrastructure risk: “This year several print-related vulnerabilities have surfaced, underlining the fact that printers and MFPs are endpoints like any other. In fact, as more intelligence is added to even basic printer models, their potential to be weaponised by bad actors increases. Added to this, businesses have low visibility and control over homebased devices and document disposal. Organisations should implement good print security including revising BYOD policies to include home print devices, employing content security solutions and conducting formal risk assessments.”

Few companies are leaders

The study asked ITDMs whether they have implemented any of 11 common security measures that protect the print infrastructure. Reporting and analytics, and formal print security and risk assessments, were the most frequently used while one third of organisations have adopted a zero trust security architecture. 37 per cent have content security solutions such as data leak protection (DLP) in place, while 31 per cent have implemented pull-printing.

Quocirca’s Print Security Maturity Index ranked organisations as ‘Leaders’ if they had deployed six or more of the measures listed – 18 per cent of respondents fell into this category. ‘Followers’ (58 per cent) have implemented between two and five measures, while ‘Laggards’ (24 per cent) have implemented only one or none of the measures.

MPS boosts security satisfaction levels

Only 28 per cent of ITDMs are very satisfied with their print supplier’s security capabilities, but this rises to 42 per cent among those that use a managed print service. They are more aware of security issues but more confident that these are being well managed by their partner. MPS users also indicate greater confidence in print infrastructure security post-COVID with 37 per cent reporting complete confidence compared to only 22 per cent of non-MPS users.

“Managed Print Services are clearly giving customers greater print confidence. We are also now seeing vendors and channel partners developing more sophisticated options that bring home office devices into the scope of MPS, giving organisations greater visibility of distributed data and associated risks,” Louella concluded.