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A close up of a standard QWERTY keyboard with the enter/print key in blue with a document icon and the word print written on it

What is pull printing and how does it improve security?

  • 3 Minutes read

Data security is high on every business agenda, yet despite greater spend and compliance requirements, breaches remain common.


Illustrating the risks, to access confidential information, all a threat would need to do is leaf through stacks of uncollected documents that are too often left beside office printers. Prevention of a breach like this often takes the form of ‘pull printing’. The term may be familiar to many, but how exactly could it help your business?

Pull printing explained 

When you send a document to a print on a device that doesn’t feature pull printing technology, it will come out right after you click print. 

With pull printing technology however, software holds print jobs in a secure virtual queue until the user that ‘pushed’ the job to print is physically at the printer and confirms they are ready to collect their print-outs. The device then releases or ‘pulls down’ the pages for printing. 

Physical authentication can be handled via PIN, username and password log-in, an NFC-enabled ID card, mobile app or QR code.  

However, with pull printing currently only adopted by 40% of businesses1, solutions like Brother's Secure Print+ software which enables NFC print protection and PrintSmart Secure Pro, which prompts users for a PIN, can bring pull printing authentication to existing networks.
a hand from outside of the frame holding a coral coloured envelop with white documents inside with the words confidential in red written at the top, all against a solid teal background

How does pull printing improve security?

Malware is perceived by business as being the greatest risk to security. However that accolade actually goes to internal users who cause 32% of data breaches. Printing and scanning contributes to this problem with 11% of all security incidents being print-related1

Printer user errors are common, whether it’s confidential papers left unattended on the printer (35%), printouts not being collected (34%) or employees picking up confidential documents that aren’t theirs (27%)2

Combatting these risks and improving security, pull printing ensures users authenticate themselves at the machine and prove they have adequate permissions. This spells an end to physical document risks associated with uncollected print jobs.

Cutting costs by preventing misuse

Besides security there are many advantages to pull printing. With unreleased print jobs remaining digital, waste is drastically reduced with lower paper, ink or toner consumption making it a greener business solution. Files that aren’t collected after a set time then get removed from the printer’s memory reducing network security risks. And because users know their printing and scanning is now being tracked, other print-related abuses stop too, whether that’s printing for personal use or scanning and copying sensitive material. 

A vital tool in your security toolbox 

Pull printing may only be one variable in the print security equation but it’s a vital one. It helps to lower the risk of losing sensitive data, restores management control, reduces costs and conserves resources. With in-house print security skills often lacking, utilising a managed print service (MPS) is often the path taken by companies classed as print security leaders.

Whether you manage the transition in-house or opt to work with a partner – pull printing is an essential pillar of data and document security. 

You can find more information about Brother’s managed print solutions here.

1 Quocirca Global Print Security Landscape 2019
2 Savanta, Future proofing your business, 2019

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