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Dec 15, 2023

Being digital first may be the mandate for many CIOs, yet printers continue to hold a prominent presence in the workplace, especially in document-heavy sectors such as government, healthcare, legal, and logistics. In fact, the expanded scope of modern printers, which enable users not just to print but to also scan, copy, save, and share files, make them even more relevant than they were 15 years ago.

Given the recent wave of devastating data breaches and cyberattacks, both locally, and around the globe, we’re seeing IT leaders rethinking their security posture—in particular, making the shift towards a zero-trust approach. And with printers still an integral part of many processes, they pose a great risk to organisations if not safeguarded, so you’d do well to include printing infrastructure into your overall IT security strategy.

Zero-trust environments set new standards of security by assuming that no user, device, or service within or outside the organisation can be trusted. End users are now viewed as potential threats and are continuously verified to block unauthorised access to critical information. Access policies are applied based on the end user's location, device, and requested data.

While the term zero-trust and its definition were popularised by Forrester research analyst John Kindervag back in 2010, it has evolved over time into various interpretations depending on the organisation you ask and their respective security priorities.

But the key pillars that link them all, according to industry leaders Google and Microsoft, are explicit verification, least-privilege access, and assumed breach. What this means is that to gain access to any resource or app, end-users must first prove that they need and have the authority to use it, every single time they want to use it.

When you think of implementing zero-trust principles to protect your infrastructure, it's highly likely printing isn't top of mind. But if your zero-trust strategy does not include the printing infrastructure, things can go south rapidly.

Consider how Quocirca's Global Print Security Landscape 2022 report found that more than two-thirds (68%) of organisations experienced data loss due to unsecured printing practices in the past 12 months. The cost of this oversight? An average of over NZD$1.2 million per data breach.

We all know that print servers are a security risk, especially in times of heavy user traffic, where files can be intercepted while they wait to print in a spool folder on the server's hard drive. Unless stringent controls are applied to devices, printed documents can be inappropriately accessed by unauthorised users and the device itself can become an access point to the network if left unprotected.

If that hasn't stressed the importance of securing endpoints (which should include printers) for a robust zero-trust network architecture, the risks are further compounded by an increasingly hybrid workforce reliant on personal printers and virtual desktop infrastructure.

Without strong passwords to protect administrator access or up-to-date firmware on those printers, they become vulnerable to opportunistic cyber attackers who are always on the lookout for loopholes to exploit. A hack into a user's personal network will inextricably link it to the employer's corporate virtual private network. Organisations are taking notice; the same report found 67% of respondents concerned about the security risks of home printing.

We highlighted earlier how different organisations have different interpretations of zero-trust, and this difference extends to how they address these risks. In the case of Canon, its approach to zero-trust is reflected in uniFLOW Online, a public cloud-based print and scan management solution hosted within Microsoft Azure.

uniFLOW Online has applied multiple strategies developed in accordance with the three key principles of a zero-rust environment Its layered approach includes multi-factor authentication and identity access management, device security, and remote monitoring and reporting tools that can track user behaviour and device anomalies such as DDoS attacks. In short, uniFLOW Online extends the same controls to individuals—regardless of where they’re located—as it does to organisations.

For users, this means that print jobs can now be released securely using a mobile device without requiring a uniFLOW SmartClient, hub, or edge device within the network to act as a bridge. Moreover, users can print directly to a device via the cloud using the Universal Output Queue, a single print queue for users to print to any printer within the company network.

Ultimately, by leveraging SaaS and a single-platform functionality uniFLOW Online can go the distance in enabling your organisation to reduce costs and increase productivity without losing its focus: to raise the efficacy of your zero-trust strategy and keep your organisation safe from cyberattacks.

Want to find out more about how uniFLOW Online can transform your print and scan environment? Visit

The principles of trusting no one within or outside of the organisation Print environments are not spared from cyberattacks The uniFLOW approach to evolving security