IT Brief New Zealand - Technology news for CIOs & IT decision-makers
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How do the Zero Trust principles apply to printing?
Tue, 19th Sep 2023

In today's digital age, security has become one of the most pressing concerns for businesses and organisations of all sizes. Cyber-attacks are increasingly frequent and sophisticated, and the consequences for all stakeholders can be devastating.

To protect against the security risks, all organisations must proactively secure their infrastructure from unauthorised access. One approach that has gained popularity in recent years is the concept of Zero Trust Environments.

However, not all Zero Trust environments are equal.  

uniFLOW Online is a mature, public cloud-based print and scan management solution built within a Zero Trust environment. With SaaS and one platform functionality, it helps reduce costs and increases productivity – whether your workforce is on-site, hybrid or remote.  

Did you know that printers are just as relevant in today's workplaces as they were 10, 15 or even 20 years ago? Particularly in the healthcare, logistics, government, and legal sectors.

In fact, due to the expanded scope of modern printers that enable users not just to print but scan, copy, save and share files, they're arguably more relevant than ever before. And this makes it critical to include printer infrastructure in your overall IT security strategy. 

In a world where we must all be hypervigilant to the increasing risks of data breaches and attacks, uniFLOW Online enhances the print and scan infrastructure security for organisations, applying the same Zero Trust principles and strict controls to hybrid and remote workers as it does to organisations, to protect infrastructure.

So, what are Zero Trust principles?

Zero Trust environments enable impressive new standards of security to be achieved for document scanning and printing infrastructure.

Zero Trust assumes that no user, device, or service within or outside the organisation can be trusted. Within this approach, end users are viewed as a potential threat and continuously verified to block inappropriate access to critical information. Access policies are applied based on the user's location, device, and requested data.

Zero Trust is a term popularised by Forrester Research analyst John Kindervag back in 2010. At that time, he proposed that "an organisation should not extend trust to anything inside or outside its perimeters".

Over time, many organisations have developed their own definition of Zero Trust based on their own priorities for data security. This has led to a wide variety of benchmarks. However, industry leaders Microsoft and Google agreed on three key pillars: 

  • Verify explicitly, 
  • Least-privileged access, 
  • Assume breach. 

What this means is that to gain access to any resource or app, users must first prove that they need and have the authority to use it – every time they want to use it.

uniFLOW Online has applied multiple strategies developed in accordance with the principles defined by Microsoft to achieve this definition of a Zero Trust network environment.

Hosted within the Microsoft Azure cloud, its layered approach includes multi-factor authentication/identity access management, device security and remote monitoring and reporting tools that can track user behaviour and device anomalies such as DDoS attacks. 

Together, these features ensure the same controls applied to corporate networks are extended to home and remote workers. 

Why do we need a Zero Trust print environment?

When organisations talk about applying Zero Trust principles to protect their infrastructure, printing might not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, if the Zero Trust implementation does not include the printing and scanning infrastructure, things can rapidly fall apart.

Quocirca's Global Print Security Landscape 2022 report highlighted that in the past 12 months, over two-thirds (68%) of organisations experienced data losses due to unsecured printing practices, with a mean cost per data breach of £632K (approx. NZD $1.3 million). 

We know that print servers are a security risk – in times of heavy user traffic, files can be intercepted as they wait to print in a spool folder on the server's hard drive. But securing endpoints, including printers, workstations, mobile devices, cloud, etc., are also key to building a strong zero-trust network architecture. This is because unless stringent controls are applied to devices, printed documents can be accessed by unauthorised users, and the device itself can become an ingress point to the network if left unprotected.

The risks are further compounded by an increasingly hybrid workforce reliant on personal printers and virtual desktop infrastructure. Issues arise when these employees are not working within a Zero Trust environment. Without strong passwords to protect the administrator account or up-to-date firmware on their devices, printers become vulnerable, enabling cyber-attackers to hack into their personal network, and from there, into the employer's corporate virtual private network. 

This is undoubtedly causing alarm bells to ring within organisations. In fact, Quocirca's 2022 report found that 67% of organisations are concerned about the security risks of home printing. 

Evolving Security

uniFLOW Online extends the same controls to individual users – whether they are on-site or in a remote location – as it does to organisations and government agencies. 

Print jobs can now be released using a mobile device without requiring a uniFLOW SmartClient, hub or edge device within the network to act as a bridge. Additionally, users can print directly to a device via the cloud using the Universal Output Queue. 

Furthermore, to enhance versatility and integration capabilities in the education market, a payment provider for budget reload is now available. UniFLOW Online 2023.1: WebPageMarketing (WPM) allows students to top-up funds to their account

Why Canon?

Canon has been the global leader in imaging for over 80 years. Renowned for innovation and security, our secure cloud print solution is trusted by thousands of organisations worldwide. Quite simply, no software in its category has received more industry accolades than uniFLOW Online.

These accolades are confirmed by an extraordinary five coveted Buyers Lab (BLI) awards for uniFLOW Online over five years, including the 2023 BLI Pick Award for Outstanding Cloud Output Management.

Presented by Keypoint Intelligence – the industry's most trusted resource for unbiased information – these awards give special recognition to manufacturers and products that performed above their peers in exhaustive lab tests.

Want to find out more about how uniFLOW Online can transform your print and scan environment?

Head to Canon's website here.