data security

Clients trust their law firms with highly sensitive personal and financial information. Are you doing everything you can to protect that information from unauthorized access? Data security on your network is probably tightly controlled, but what about your printing devices?

Printers are often overlooked and can easily be a gaping hole in your firm’s data security. And it’s not only the devices themselves that cause the problem. Access to documents coming of the printer, as well as access to scanning and emailing documents, can lead to security breaches. In fact, one out of ten security breaches involves paper documents.

We do not have to tell you about the potentially damaging consequences of confidential information getting into the wrong hands. The stakes are even higher for law firms that must comply with federal regulations such as HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, Patriot Act, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and other statutes. Non-compliance can result in penalties that threaten your bottom line.

Make sure the worst does not happen by implementing data security policies and practices for printers and printed documents.

Here are some recommendations to help you get started.

3 steps to take control of data security for law firms

STEP 1: Define user roles within your organization

Even before you invest in the tools needed to improve your data security, you should begin by creating a data security policy. That policy should define each role within your organization (such as attorneys, paralegals, accounting, etc.), and the specify the rights that role should have related to data access and printing. You may be able to consolidate roles into user groups with the same permissions.

Then, assign each employee to the appropriate user role or group.

STEP 2: Control access to printing devices & printed documents

The next step in tightening cyber security for law firms is to limit access to printing devices to authorized users only.

At this point you will need network print management software to implement data security features on your networked printing devices. The good news is, if you have modern multifunction printers from a leading manufacturer such as Canon, you might already have the software. Canon’s managed print solution is called uniFLOW. If you have a mixed-vendor fleet, you can use brand-agnostic tools like Box or Papercut.

Print management software includes secure print capabilities that allow you to authenticate users of printing devices.

How does that work? Every user gets a pass code or a swipe card. Their account allows them access to the printer capabilities according to their role and the data security policy you created in Step 1. When they print a document, they authenticate by entering their code or swiping their card to retrieve the document.

With secure print in place, you never have to worry about confidential documents sitting unattended on a printer, because print jobs are never released until the user comes to pick them up.

TIP: Do your attorneys need the ability to print from mobile devices? Canon’s uniFLOW solution provides a server-based application that lets them do so (and scan back to their smartphones or tablets) while maintaining tight data security.

Learn more: 4 Secure Print Strategies to Keep Your Network Safe

STEP 3. Limit electronic document distribution

Just as you use secure print to protect hard-copy documents, you can also use it to control electronic distribution of documents through your printer’s other functions, including scanning and faxing.

You can do that by limiting user permissions related to faxing or scanning and emailing documents.

For example, you might want only authorized personnel to scan legal documents and send to your archive, repository or secure network folders. Canon’s uniFLOW solution not only provides the ability to limit permissions, but you can even set up custom buttons on Canon devices that can only be used by authorized and authenticated staff for specific actions, like archiving, emailing, or faxing.

BONUS: Financial benefits of tightening data security for printing

Using print management software such as Canon’s uniFLOW can bring benefits above and beyond data security.

Law firms do quite a lot of printing! And they need to recover case-related print expenses. That can be a time-consuming process and it can be difficult to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. One of the benefits of using print management software is easy tracking and charge-back of expenses to client accounts. You can easily set up account codes and run reports that detail all printing, scanning and faxing expenses.

Here is the benefit that many law firms overlook: reducing wasted printing can save you a great deal of money. For example:

  • Only print what you need. With secure print, there are no more stacks of abandoned print jobs sitting on the printer.
  • Set rules so that you print color only when necessary. For example, printing an email should always be in black and white. Automatically printing color when you don’t really need it increases your supplies costs and even the cost of your service contract.
  • Print double-sided by default. You can greatly reduce paper costs with this simple step.
  • Print large jobs to the most economical printers. Only use expensive-to-operate desktop printers for smaller print jobs.

With a managed print strategy and a good software solution, you can control access to printing features and take back all that wasted expense.

Interested in how much money you can save? Read this case study: Managed Printing: The Easy Way to Reduce Office Print Expense.

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