The demand for mobile printing is growing fast.
According to IDC research, there were approximately 1.3 billion mobile workers in 2015 —37% of the total workforce. Mobile devices printed an estimated 2 billion pages in 2015, and that number is expected to increase to 10 billion documents by 2020.
Still, the escalating demand for mobile printing solutions is not being addressed sufficiently. IDC estimates that 35 percent of smartphone users and 34 percent of tablet users can’t print the way they want to.
Fact is, the increasingly mobile workplace—and today’s BYOD (bring your own device) environment—presents a challenge to your customers. How do organizations with a large number of remote workers make sure they have the printing resources to support employee-owned tablets, notebooks and smartphones, not to mention company-issued mobile devices? More importantly, how do companies ensure that documents printed from mobile devices are safe and secure—and that mobile printing doesn’t end up jeopardizing the security of their networks?
Companies certainly want to keep jobs that are printed remotely from being seen by the wrong people—and also to protect Web-connected printers from being accessed by unauthorized users, or worse yet, hackers.
Here’s some advice you can offer your customers on safeguarding the documents printed from mobile devices and establishing a secure mobile printing environment throughout their organizations.
Addressing security concerns.
With simple wireless printing, documents are usually printed immediately, so it’s best to retrieve them right away. If that scenario turns out to be the exception more than the rule, your customers should look for a solution that gives each user a passcode and holds onto a printing job until that person can actually get to the printer and enter the code. That way, the printed documents don’t hang around the printer, decreasing the likelihood that they’ll fall into the wrong hands.
Third-party printing vendors like HP now offer innovative technology that makes mobile printing more secure than ever.
HP wireless direct, for example, provides a high-speed secure connection from a mobile device to a printer, offering wireless access to printing devices without compromising network infrastructure security. It functions essentially as an independent stand-alone network, completely separate from the enterprise LAN and back-end infrastructure, and provides access only to printing resources. Data is never transferred between the networks, even if the printer also happens to be connected to the enterprise network. Access to the printing device is managed through a configurable passphrase that appears before connecting, and documents are encrypted before they’re sent to the printer.
Another solution, HP touch-to-print, is a near-field communication (NFC) technology that creates an HP wireless connection when users touch their NFC-enabled mobile devices to a printer’s NFC antenna. Users simply open up a document, touch the printer with their device and print—eliminating the need to search among SSIDs (service-set identifiers) to connect to the nearest available printer.
Both HP wireless direct and HP touch-to-print offer a peer-to-peer connection that’s completely separate from the LAN, enabling only print functions and keeping enterprise data inaccessible and secure.
Cloud printing makes sense for today’s mobile environments.
Cloud printing services like Google Cloud Print and HP’s ePrint have made document printing in the BYOD environment more convenient and have greatly improved user productivity. With cloud printing, printers are connected to the Web so that they can be accessed anywhere and at any time from Web-connected devices. Instead of installing unique drivers for every printer they use, users can print from virtually any device, including their tablets and smart phones, as long as both the printer and the device are linked to the cloud printing service.
Cloud printing eliminates the need for organizations to coordinate hardware across a widely distributed system of computers, printers, and mobile devices in multiple locations. Having to install different printer drivers every time a person needs to print from a new printer is not only time-consuming. It’s also a drain on productivity.
In short, it simply doesn’t make sense for today’s fast-paced business environment.
That’s why cloud printing is such an attractive option.
Most cloud printing services now use a secure HTTPS web connection to add an extra layer of security. The documents and pictures are deleted from the cloud as soon as they are printed or they can be kept on the server for period of time and then purged manually. Still, there’s no guarantee that that is completely secure since the servers that hold the data are shared with other users and organizations. As a result, many enterprises, especially those that handle highly sensitive and confidential data like government agencies, healthcare organizations and financial services companies, may be reluctant to print via the public cloud for fear of security breaches.
For these organizations, a private cloud solution makes better sense—if they have the financial and IT resources to implement one.
With a private cloud, the servers that host the data belong to the company—and the company alone. This makes cyber-attacks significantly less likely, as the company controls the servers along with access to them. With a private cloud, the company’s vital information lives behind a secure firewall, and print jobs sent to networked printers never leave the secure firewall. Companies can manage their own policies and users, control printer available, add or suspend mobile users as needed.
As mobile printing becomes the norm in companies and organization of all sizes, implementing the right technology and protocols to safeguard documents and data will be essential. Your customers will appreciate your advice on the best way to ensure security as their employees become increasingly reliant on their smartphones and tablets—and the ability to print from anywhere.