Do we need data-loss prevention for printers and copiers?

Canon USA explains why it designed a DLP product specifically for its multi-function peripherals

By now, the idea of using data-loss prevention (DLP) technologies to detect and block unauthorized transit of sensitive information across a network at host and gateway points is well accepted. As applied to peripherals such as printers and copiers, the idea is quite novel. But Canon, a longtime maker of printer-fax-copying machines, says DLP can and should be applied to this, too.

"There are nefarious folks out there," says Dennis Amorosano, senior director of Canon solutions marketing for Canon U.S.A., which built an optional DLP and audit system for its multi-function peripherals (MFP). "[And many customers] still don't look at printers and multi-function devices as part of their security strategy."

Canon addressed this issue in large part because a major customer, a large Japanese manufacturing firm, found someone had used one of its Canon MFPs to copy upcoming product plans and simply walk out the door with them, leading to a significant information breach.

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Canon's Secure Audit Manager is a software-based security system that can be used with the company's MFPs to track all activities related to document copying, printing, faxing and scanning. It can also be used to block thefts or alert a security manager to potential problems based on specific keywords.

"It's also used for audit. We're keeping a record of the actual physical document processed by the device," says Amorosano.

This allows the security manager to trace a specific document imaging process back to a person, because the system can also require users to authenticate to use a Canon MFP. Two-factor authentication cards can be used with Canon Secure Audit Manager, and policies can be associated with Active Directory and linked into a workflow system.

Amorosano acknowledges that aside from larger companies such as the Japanese manufacturer that inspired the creation of the Canon Secure Audit Manager several months ago, few customers are yet setting up DLP for their Canon printer-fax-copy combo units.

Secure Audit Manager goes for about $30,000, which includes costs related to the need for storage. Note that Secure Audit Manager exists as a stand-alone DLP system that isn't tied into other types of enterprise DLP products.

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