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Brother's “At Your Side” Guide to: Print Security

It’s easy for non-technical users to forget that these everyday office machines need to be just as secure as the other devices on your network.
If they’re overlooked, you risk offering hackers an easy backdoor into your organisation.

According to Quocirca’s Global Print Security Landscape report, 11% of all security incidents are print related - and 59% of businesses experienced at least one print-related data loss in the past 12 months.1

Most people simply take their devices - and their functionality - for granted. That’s probably why the most likely cause of a print security breach is the accidental actions of internal users.1

However, other than technology decision makers, not everyone within your business will be fluent in the language of print security. Research tells us that jargon is often the culprit, with almost half SMBs saying there is too much jargon used around printer security - and more than half in France and Italy! 2

With that in mind, here are our top 10 print security jargon-busting explanations for you to share with your users.


  1. Firmware
    - What is it?
    Firmware is the programme that is installed on your printer when it is first manufactured.
    - What does it do?
    It's the on-board software that controls the functions of your printer.
    - Why do you need it?
    Firmware is the 'brain' of your printer - and regular updates are highly recommended to fix any glitches, add new features and maintain security protection.

  2. Encryption
    - What is it?
    Encryption is a security method where data is 'scrambled' and can only be read by recipients with the right 'secret code' (known as a decryption key).
    - What does it do?
    It keeps your data private, protecting it in transit by making it extremely difficult to read by people who don't have the right access permission.
    - Why do you need it?
    If you send, receive, store or print sensitive data, encryption enhances the security of your communications.

  3. 3. TLS
    - What is it?
    Transport Layer Security a security protocol that uses algorithms to encrypt print data during its transmission – ideal as a defence against printer hacking and other threats that compromise document security.
    - What does it do?
    It provides privacy and security for data shared across the internet.
    - Why do you need it?
    If you have remote users or print via the cloud, TLS protects data against printer hacking, tampering and eavesdropping on your print data in transit.

  4. Protocols
    - What are they?
    A set of rules or procedures governing the exchange of data between devices such as computers and printers.
    - What do they do?
    They determine what sort of data may be transmitted, which commands are used to send and receive that data, and the way those data transfers are confirmed.
    - Why do you need them?
    Devices made by different manufacturers - or different types of device (computers, printers, servers etc) - need to support the same protocols to communicate with each other. By disabling unused ports and protocols, you limit the number of ways your device can be attacked.

  5. SFTP
    -  What is it?
    Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) is a protocol for securely transferring large files between devices, normally over the web.
    - What does it do?
    It creates a safe, encrypted connection for sending scanned documents from single or multifunction scanners to their destinations
    - Why do you need it?
    Unlike regular FTPs, the added security of SFTP gives you the highest level of protection against the potential interception of data in transit.

  6. LDAP
    - What is it?
    Lightweight Directory Access Protocol is the set of rules that govern the sharing of information about users, groups, and applications.
    - What does it do?
    It is a connector used primarily in linking user information and addresses from one system to another. By connecting to a centrally managed directory, this is used by the device for scanning, faxing or authentication purposes.
    - Why do you need it?
    Eliminates the requirement to duplicate information. By using LDAP to connect to an administrator managed user database, it adds another layer of validation security, including imposing constraints that prevent unauthorised users from using the device.
  7. Pen Test
    - What is it?
    A 'penetration test' is a simulated attack on your computer network to assess the security of the devices and applications you use.
    - What does it do?
    It identifies any 'weak-spots' in your network and data systems that could be exploited by cyber-criminals.
    - Why do you need it?
    Information gathered from a Pen Test is used to fix vulnerabilities and improve the security of your systems to protect against potential attacks.

  8. Pull Print
    - What is it?
    The act of “pulling” print jobs from a secure location in order to print them. For example, a secure server or from the device’s internal memory.
    - What does it do?
    Instead of printing immediately, it ensures documents you send to print are not released until you are ready to pick them up.
    - Why do I need it?
    20 percent of print jobs go uncollected3. Not only does this use excess paper, power and printer supplies, it also potentially leaves confidential documents exposed to prying eyes. Pull Printing ensures you are on location to retrieve your documents, reducing this risk.

  9. IP Blocking
    - What is it?
    A security method used by businesses where devices can be set up to only accept connections from specific IP addresses linking to trusted machines, this prevents access to the device over the network.
    - What does it do?
    IP Blocking prevents unauthorised users from accessing your printers directly and bypassing the security on your print server. Therefore, only Authorised users will retain access.
    - Why do I need it?
    Not only does it prevent potentially hostile or unauthorised IP addresses from connecting to mail, print or internet servers, it is also useful if you are looking to restrict excessive or unauthorised printer use.

  10. Secure Function Lock
    - What is it?
    It is a control panel function that restricts user access to your printers' settings and certain functions.
    - What does it do?
    It allows you to configure passwords for selected users, control access to printer functions and even control costs by setting monthly printing limits.
    - Why do I need it?
    It enhances your device security requirements by controlling who can access certain functions on your devices.

At Brother, print security is always at the forefront of our minds. With increased legislation around privacy and data security, we know that organisations need to find as many ways as possible to protect their data. That’s why Brother offers the option of PrintSmart Secure Pro – a document security feature, reduces print security risks and helps you meet data compliance regulations.

It allows users to collect documents from any printer connected to the PrintSmart Secure Pro server - but they will need a PIN code or NFC Card authentication to release the printing. So sensitive or confidential information is only ever seen by the intended recipient and remains private.

Ultimately, data and document security is everyone's responsibility and we hope that sharing this guide helps you to grow understanding that will improve print security across your organisation.

This 'At Your Side’ Guide is only a quick guide to understanding print security. To learn more, take a look at Brother’s printer security pages or check out our other blog articles on security.

1: Quocirca: “Global Print Security Landscape” -  2019


2. Savanta: 'Future Proofing Your Business’ Market Research, June 2020

3. Scribd: ‘’Quocirca Printer Pulse’, June 2010.

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