Hewlett-Packard Designates Printing A First-Class IoT Security Platform

When you think Internet of Things (IoT), the first thing that probably comes to mind are FitBits and Nest thermometers, not printers. But if you work in enterprise IT or security, it should, particularly when it comes to IoT security. Hewlett-Packard has recently announced several additions to their printer security platform that plugs potential holes that should, in my opinion, be a focus for an overall corporate security strategy. I would like to talk about three things- why Hewlett-Packard has such a laser focus on this topic, why it’s so important to any corporation with a printer, and talk a bit on some new printing products Hewlett-Packard announced. If you want a deeper dive, you can download our detailed paper here (Free registration required). Let me start with some background.

Printer security matters

By now, we have all seen the recent results of inadequate online enterprise security.  Most of these (think recently of Home Depot and Target) have been data breaches.  These breaches have cost C-level staff their jobs, and many consumers have to worry about their personal information. As more and more device “classes” are connected to internal corporate networks and the internet, the possibility of malicious breaches through thermostats, printers, VOIP lines and smartphones increases every day.

I think printing is an often overlooked segment of IoT that has great potential risks. If you think about it, printed items are generally time sensitive, high priority and important, making them essential to secure. We all have accidentally left and item in the print tray or printed an item to the wrong printer and never picked it up. Think about it, was that the latest strategy presentation? A 360 review? An offer letter? The things we choose to print matter.

Printers now more like PCs and servers

While the materials we print are critical, the nature of office printers and multi-function devices has changed radically. Printers and Multi-Function Devices (MFDs) now have more in common with PCs and servers than the printers of old. In today’s printers we find PC-class processors running a Windows or Linux operating system, storage, displays, scanners, networks, mobile access, cloud based modes and even integrated HTML-based browser and email clients.

(Courtesy HP)( HP LaserJet Enterprise Flow MFP M630z with keyboard and card reader. Courtesy Hewlett-Packard)

Simply put, enterprise IT needs to treat printers as “equal citizens” on the network—just like we treat personal computers, laptops and smartphones.

HP “gets” security

In my many conversations and analyst events and interviews with HP, it’s clear they believes in a holistic approach to printer security. HP says that it believes that printers, data and documents all need to be addressed as part of an overall corporate security strategy. As such, HP printers and printing services address the entire corporate environment including network security, data protection, access control (who’s allowed to access what), device security, monitoring and management, and document security.

I’d now like to talk about HP’s newly introduced products for data protection, monitoring and management and document security.

HP’s new, more secure printing devices and services

First, HP introduced a new service they call the “HP Printing Security Advisory Services” (PSAS). HP security consultants engage to help organizations audit their existing printer security status, provide education on their current security status and risk, provide information on best practices, and assist customers in developing a comprehensive security policy and plan. This is a big-time services play and I like it.

Next, the key to printer security is consistent application of security policies and the ability to easily monitor these policies with minimum manpower. The “HP Imaging and Printing Security Center” (IPSC) software, the heart of HP’s printer security strategy, provides automated deployment of security policies and deployment of unique identity certificates as well as on-going monitoring to assure compliance.  So what about road-warriors or work at home employees?

As organizations continue to deploy a more mobile workforce, printing needs have changed. Even when I worked for large companies, I work at home (or at coffee shops) and needed to access my print jobs back in the office or at remote locations. To address these needs, HP has bundled “JetAdvantage Pull Print” with their new printers and MFPs. “Pull Print” is a process to allow organizations to securely store and retrieve cloud-based jobs and print them at the MFP.

As part of this latest security roll-out, HP has aggressively integrated MFPs into the overall IT security ecosystem. They have added integrated printer monitoring in with their “ArcSight Security Information” and “Event Management (SIEM) tool.” This allows organizations to monitor in real-time the entire IT infrastructure including printer security. In addition, HP has integrated print device content into their “Enterprise Content Management” (ECM solution), HP Autonomy. This integration allows HP to improve compliance and records management by extending the offering to the print environment.

Wrapping up

I’ve spent a lot of time talking to a lot of companies about their systems, infrastructure and security. I don’t think most of them have spent a lot of time thinking about all the potential holes that the new IoT economy are about to unleash on the corporate world. Printers, as a mainstay of the corporate workflow for years to come have to be secured against both malicious and accidental security breaches. HP continues to bring strong focus on MFP and printer security, as part of their “soup to nuts” approach to overall corporate security, and could very well enable them to compete even better in the enterprise market.

If you would like to learn more about the details of what they have done you can read our paper here (free registration required).