As shared network printers and even wireless printers become more common in the workplace, users are left with the problem of keeping documents secure. Secure printing can be a constant problem for government agencies, healthcare providers, and other offices where sensitive documents need to be managed. Users often need to print documents to a shared machine, but how do you keep them safe from prying eyes or unauthorized users before they have time to pick up their printout? Previous solutions like password-protected printing offer some protection, but newer methods like secure biometric printing can offer even better protection that is much more difficult to circumvent, as it uses fingerprints to identify an authorized user.
Previous secure printing methods generally involve sending a print job to the machine, but locking it with a password or pin code. The document is sent to the machine, but the password must be entered into the control panel before it will begin printing. This ensures that a document with sensitive information does not sit in the printer’s output tray where someone could snatch it up, and also ensures the user doesn’t forget about the printout and leave it lying around.
While this method solves many of the problems of printing sensitive documents, it has weaknesses. If someone knows the user’s password or pin code, for example, they could still authorize the print job and steal the document. Since some users might be prone to writing their password on a sticky note, for example, it may not even be difficult to discover.
Secure biometric printing utilizes a system that is much more difficult to crack, however, as it uses a person’s fingerprint for authorization. Once a user sends a print job to the printer, they must walk to the machine press the thumb or finger against a fingerprint reader. Once the fingerprint has been identified and validated, the job will begin printing. These fingerprint devices can also be used as a log-in mechanism for users, to track their usage and help reduce abuse.
There are a number of Canon printers that support this functionality as well as models from other manufacturers, and more are being brought to the market all the time. As an alternative solution, managers can also buy add-on systems that can integrate with their current network printer for many of the same functions.
While secure biometric printing may not be a fool-proof solution for protecting sensitive documents, it does offer a method that is more difficult to circumvent. Tying the information to a specific user and their fingerprint provides an easier method to track usage and avoid many of the problems of previous technologies.