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Time to differentiate

With security now a key differentiator for printer and MFP vendors, Eric Crump, Director of Strategic Alliances at Ringdale, is urging resellers to conduct due diligence, and take a fresh look at what solutions are on the market

GDPR May 2018
GDPR May 2018

The advent of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May in particular, has brought the requirement for organisations to rethink how best to secure content that flows in and out of their business even higher up the agenda. As the fnancial and reputational penalties for a data breach look set to increase further, companies are looking to vendors for solutions to secure network print devices through intrusion detection, whitelisting, encryption, self-healing BIOS and other tools.

“Whilst the world is changing, some resellers aren’t keeping apace. What they should be doing to prepare and future-proof their business for 2018 and beyond, is looking ahead and taking the time to find out what new solutions are on the market that will help them help their customers,” Crump argues.

The measures stated above only address part of the problem, principally external threats and network vulnerabilities. “In too many businesses, paper output remains untraceable, printed data can be quickly and easily removed, often without the victim ever being aware that their data security has been compromised,” he said.

Crump warns that if resellers adopt the mindset that everyone is selling the same solutions, and focus on being competitive in other areas, the channel might be missing out on revenue. “In order to do something different you have to offer something different.

“To prevent insiders from stealing data assets, you need something more than just secure printing. Pull printing on its own won’t stop a corrupt employee from printing and removing corporate or customer data.

You need a means of monitoring the content of print jobs and, where appropriate, preventing them from being printed,” he said.

Data loss prevention

Many businesses already make use of Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solutions provided by Companies like Symantec, Digital Guardian and Intel Security to monitor digital communications for key words or patterns (e.g. strings of numbers). However, Crump argues that few organisations apply the same supervision to printed documents, even though print jobs contain the same confidential or valuable data.

DLP is a growing requirement for mid-market to very large enterprises, such as banks, insurance companies, retail, government and healthcare organisations. “They need to protect data, and that needs to go beyond just printing with a badge,” he said.

FollowMe offers DLP as an integrated feature and has just been recognised by Keypoint Intelligence – Buyers Lab (BLI) as the Outstanding Data Loss Prevention (DLP) Solution in their 2018 Software Pick Awards.

FollowMe analyses the content of a print job as it goes from the desktop or mobile device to the printer. If it detects a key word or number string, it can stop a print job from printing, send an email alert and archive a copy for further processing, to ascertain whether there has been a breach of security. Where printing is authorised, documents can be printed with a ‘Confidential’ watermark, the action recorded and an administrator alerted.

FollowMe has had some form of DLP capability since it invented the concept 20 years ago. “FollowMe is actually a Data Loss Prevention product in itself,” Crump said, adding: “Because you have to tap your badge or type a PIN before you can release a print job, you are already preventing the loss of information that typically just sits in the output bin. As reported by Quocirca this year, 61 per cent of companies have had a data breach due to paper sitting in the output bin.”

He continued: “Over the last six years, as customers have told us they want to protect certain information, we have been able to work together to deliver bespoke DLP solutions that enable them to prevent data breaches by monitoring print jobs for account numbers, key words and national ID numbers. Then, in August 2016, we introduced DLP as an integrated capability for our partners.”

Working with partners

With the content monitoring solution available to partners, Ringdale is continuing to assist them to win new business by incorporating these enhanced IT security countermeasures into their security offerings.

“We work with partners and their customers to understand what kind of information they are trying to protect and who has access to that information. Together, we build a strategy around document security that is consistent with what they are doing in their IT strategy,” Crump said.

FollowMe uncovers high risk areas and enables organisations to understand how they are processing data, in order to apply the relevant level of control to secure and make the printing process compliant.

One area that Ringdale takes great care over is change management, so that if an employee does print something they shouldn’t, perhaps accidentally, they receive an email or print-out explaining that their attempt to print the document was in contravention of the company’s document security policy.

Crump points out that, as well as demonstrating the company’s commitment to document security, such messages help reduce help desk calls from people who don’t know why a document isn’t printing.

“Another thing we focus on is making everything easy for the channel partner or the customer. One of the reasons most of our channel partners work with us is because there is not much they need to do on the post-sales side. After FollowMe has been installed, it pretty much works. The channel partner doesn’t have to send people out to fx problems or adjust things to make it work, and customers are happy because the product just works,” he said.

Vendor-neutral solution

Another way in which Ringdale has an advantage over other solutions is support for multi-vendor print fleets. This, says Crump, is critical when the channel is dealing with mid-market and large enterprises that might have legacy devices and different brand choices in regional or branch offices.

“There are plenty of basic pull printing solutions on the market today. But when you start looking at very specifc customer requirements, there’s less choice. Quocirca says 70 per cent of organisations have a mixed-vendor fleet and we are one of the only multi-vendor fleet DLP providers on the market. A solution from one of the OEMs is not going to work effectively across a multi-vendor fleet. For that, you need an advanced solution like FollowMe,” he added.

Unique selling points

According to Crump, FollowMe has a number of unique selling points compared to competitor offerings. “The industrial strength of the product is one of the major advantages. Some larger organisations need a product to work with 10s of 1,000s of employees – and we can enable that. FollowMe is also designed to work effciently and economically across multiple sites. Branch offce printing, for example, removes the need for and cost of a dedicated print server in every offce.

He continued: “For highly distributed offces we have lightweight software that runs on a workstation and does the work of the server. It holds the print job and waits until the user taps a badge on the printer before releasing it. Then it sends that auditing information back to head offce. It just sends small bits of information back to the server at head offce rather than the whole print job.”

The DLP component works in the same way, depending on what the customer wants to achieve, making it easier and cheaper for multi-site organisations to apply consistent data security controls across their entire enterprise.

The same applies to mobile devices. “If someone is printing from a smartphone or tablet, we can analyse the documents coming from those devices. Some competing products don’t support printing from mobile devices as a native capability and have to add another package from another vendor. This involves another server agreement and another level of complexity. With FollowMe, DLP and mobile printing are part of the native product so anything that is printed is audited, analysed and managed.”

GDPR compliance

FollowMe’s ability to secure data through the monitoring and management of print jobs from computers, tablets and smartphones plugs a hole in many a data security strategy and enables organisations to apply the same control to printed information that is routinely applied to email and digital assets. FollowMe’s secure print, encryption and DLP capabilities are widely used by organisations to ensure compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), Gramm-LeachBliley Act (GLBA) and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS). The solution can also help companies meet the requirements of the GDPR and be advantageous for ongoing data protection impact assessments (DPIAs).

“We believe that less than one quarter of organisations are going to be GDPR-ready by the deadline,” said Crump. “We know that most are not considering Printing as part of that scenario. Quocirca research shows that a minority (48 per cent) have considered printing as part of their GDPR strategy and while they may have considered it, we don’t know whether they have introduced solutions or processes to secure their infrastructure and improve their document processes. The channel should be working with customers and prospects, ensuring that printing is being considered as part of their GDPR strategy,” he said in conclusion.

To find out more about FollowMe please call the Ringdale team on 01444 871349 or alternatively download the BLI solution assessment from

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