We put a lot of resources into data loss prevention, information classification and cyber security projects in an effort to ensure our information is safe. We have developed sophisticated methods of detecting sensitive information and stopping it from being copied over the network, uploaded to the cloud, copied to USB sticks and even burned to DVDs. But there is still one (low tech) leak that seems unstoppable: paper. What is to prevent someone from printing out sensitive information and then taking it out the door or losing control of it in some other way?
At first glance it may seem there is nothing we can do, but there are steps that can be taken.
- Data Classification
The first step is to crowd source security. Have you ever watched a movie and seen that “Top Secret” stamp on a document, or maybe even an envelope marked “Confidential”? Well it turns out that visibly marking the information does protect it. TITUS makes it easy to classify files so the sensitivity of the information is always known, even when printed. Those who are security conscious will pick up and secure information if they see it at risk, such as an item marked “secret” and left unattended in the lunchroom. Usually they will follow up that act by identifying the person who put the information at risk and ensuring this does not happen again. So step one – clearly indicate the sensitivity of information when printed.
- Protective Markings
Step two is to assign responsibility. In the case of a printed document, this could be done with a watermark clearly indicating the user who is responsible for printing the information. TITUS can apply the user’s name and other identifying information directly to any document being printed, increasing user accountability and motivating secure custody of the printed pages. You can understand that if someone’s name is printed on every page of a sensitive document they will be much more conscientious about protecting it.
- Control and Protect Printed Files
Step three is controlling the printing process. Based on the classification or sensitivity of a document, TITUS can prevent the file from being printed, or at least ensure it is printed to a secure printer. For example, some organizations have taken steps to limit sensitive print jobs to only printers in a secure location or to a secure printer. TITUS partner Celiveo (formerly JetMobile) provides technology that enhances the security of print jobs. Celiveo can, for example, require user authentication via smart card or PIN before print jobs are actually printed, ensuring the owner of the information is at the printer to retrieve the job as soon as it is printed. Celiveo also provides technology to secure the print stream in transit so that if the file is intercepted on the way to the printer the information is not at risk.
The printed file does not have to be a weak spot in your information protection program. There are steps you can take to prevent the loss of printed information. By identifying and marking the sensitivity of printed files you can crowdsource security. By applying custom watermarks to printed files, you can increase accountability for the printed file’s protection. And by leveraging data classification policy and secure print technologies, you can ensure the printed file is collected by the rightful owner.