Pull Printing is a tried and tested workflow for printing secure documents in organizations. In this blog post, we look at what pull printing is and highlight its impact on your business and users.
With a pull printing solution, printouts are not printed directly once the user clicks print. Instead, print jobs are held in a secure print queue, either in the cloud, on a server, or on the user’s endpoint. When the user is at their printer of choice, they can release their print outs by authenticating at the printer.
Authentication is typically carried out via various methods, like scanning a QR code with a smartphone, swiping an ID card on a card reader or typing in a PIN code.
In the current climate of strict data protection laws, such as HIPAA, EU-GDPR and more, organizations need to do due diligence and ensure that sensitive data is protected. Confidential documents being left in the printer tray for others to access is a security risk and data protection law violation.
Furthermore, as the printers have become more and more feature rich and powerful over the years, they have proven themselves to be a valid target for malicious attacks. Overall, it has become more important that not only the printers themselves, but the documents printed need to be more securely managed.
Zero trust and pull printing are strategies that can be effective at improving data protection. Authentication at the printer introduces an extra security check for printing without hindering the printing workflow unnecessarily.
It also an effective insurance that printed documents containing sensitive information land in the hands of the correct user. After all, they have to be at the printer and log in to trigger the print process.
From time-to-time documents get printed in haste, only to be forgotten and left in the printer tray. In other cases, the user might print to the incorrect shared printer – particularly common in large offices and public spaces – and therefore need to search for the printer or print again.
Each time this happens, paper, toner and energy resources are wasted. These types of common scenarios are eliminated when the user collects the document at the printer when they are ready. We covered other tips for reducing paper waste in organizations in another blog post, check it out!
Linking up nicely with the previous point, pull printing solutions often double up as a follow me printing solution. This means the employees do not need to be assigned specific printers by an admin or need to select a specific printer in order to print something out. They simply send their document to the secure print queue and walk up to their nearest printer, regardless of where they are currently working. For admins this means that they are also able to eliminate expensive individual printers for specific teams and implement secure shared printing stations for flexible mobile printing.
The cost and management savings from pull printing are clear, yet it is not just the organizations which benefit. As previously touched upon, the user is not always aware of where each printer is by just looking at the printer name when printing out a document. Not having secure print release in these situations can definitely be stressful for users, especially when they are printing something private.
Another added productivity boost is that users are able to switch to another printer on the fly if the original printer is currently being used by someone else.
Although pull printing is often an additional offering that brings additional costs, the costs of using pull printing should of course be weighed against the benefits. That is, the reduction in waste (paper, toner and energy resources), improved productivity and the reduced risk of fines or damages due to lax security procedures.
If pull printing functionality is embedded directly into the printer itself, bear in mind that additional hardware costs will also be involved.
As an alternative to sourcing new MFDs and printers, there are also plenty of low cost pull printing solutions on the market which will integrate and implement pull printing with your existing printers.
Pull printing might not be seen as the ideal solution by all of users too, and this depends on how they tend to print. While pull printing is great improvement in the majority of scenarios, and a no-brainer in terms of security, some employees may be resistant to the change at first because they will need to be at the printer while the documents are being printed out. This isn’t usually a big deal, but you may want to open a dialogue with specific users which regularly print out large numbers of copies in bulk. Best practice is to speak with teams, communicate potential security risks, and work towards the optimal workflow for all parties.
Looking for more information on increase the security in your printing environment? Then download our free print security checklist