Once upon a time, printers were printing devices no different from a typewriter in terms of security. As years lapsed, time printers have become more sophisticated, network-enabled devices with hard drives and even operating systems. Pretty much like personal computer. And people keep on taking printers for what they actually are – devices that produce images and texts.
However, modern printers, especially if incorporated into organization’s computer network, can compromise the network security. Printers became as dangerous as computers – they, too, are vulnerable to hackers attacks from inside and outside, and are good place for viruses and other malware to reside. This is what many security expert say and few printer users realize.
In an afford to addressed this issue, Hewlett Packard announced Secure Print Advantage – a new printing security system. According to the company, Secure Print Advantage is the industry’s first hardware-based security solution to minimize business risk.
“HP Secure Print Advantage automates traditionally manual processes and delivers an industry first: consistent, comprehensive and enforceable security policy for the print infrastructure,” said Chris Whitener, chief strategist, Secure Advantage, HP. “This solution provides the necessary automation and simplification of security tasks, like key management, to reduce the costs and burdens generally associated with them.”
Secure Print Advantage a actually a set of devices that encrypt and decrypt data transferred between the workstation and the printer using government-grade FIPS 140-2 Level 4 encryption, maximum level of security encryption. The system consists of modules installed in the user’s desktop or laptop, Secure Printing Modules and the Secure Document Server.
Module of the user’s workstation encrypts the outgoing data and sends it to the Secure Document Server. The server then scans the document for malware, re-encrypts it and either sends it to a Secure Printing Module or to another user. The Secure Printing Module, in turn, decrypts the information and transfers it to the printer. The printing module can also be equipped with a keypad or card-reader to ensure that only an authorized user prints the document.
The system will be available on the market in February, 2008. HP didn’t announce the price yet, but the system is said to be expensive, thus affordable only to those companies where high level of security is vital.