The networked copier that all companies have in the hallway or backroom is no longer the "old school" device most IT managers still assume it to be. On the contrary, it's quickly evolved into a sophisticated computing platform that can grant access into the heart of the network.
Copiers have been reborn as document distribution centers, enabling users to scan paper and send images via email to document management, financial or human resources systems, for example. Integration with business applications allows for more efficient distribution, editing and storage of what was traditionally paper-based information.
However, most networked copiers have not been secured in the same rigorous way as other endpoints, such as mobile devices and office workstations. In many companies, network attached copiers could be used to distribute unauthorized documents or even distribute documents using identities that impersonate company executives. IT managers can address this security problem in several ways:
- User authentication: Copiers can be set to require network passwords.
- Permissions authentication: The copier can also be configured to require users to enter passwords to gain access to specific enterprise applications.
- Document encryption: A critical aspect of many government regulations is the process of ensuring data integrity. Document encryption at the copier helps safeguard confidential information before it is transmitted across the network.
- Secure deletion of temporary files: Most copiers automatically keep a record of files that have recently been scanned.
- Activity tracking: Copiers can be set up to create audit trails.
- Timed log out: Just like a door held open for others after using a passcard, the copier should be set to quickly log a user out when there has been no activity.
- Native integration: Native integration of enterprise applications with the networked copier – in other words, making the device a true client on the network.
With companies spending billions of dollars each year trying to secure networks and applications, they should also consider these simple and inexpensive steps to help close what could be a gaping hole in their information security infrastructures.
Wayne Foster is senior product manager, eCopy, Inc.