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We spend a fair amount of time making sure that our computers, documents, and private information are all kept secure. But all that time and energy can be for naught if you share a network printer.
You know it, you need it, you use it every day: the copy room. It's the place for ad-hoc meetings, copy machine tantrums (its and yours), and petty pen and legal pad theft. It's also a hot spot for confidential information, lying in a pile at the printer, patiently waiting for you (and everyone else) to pick it up.
The reason for my writing this column is simple: I don't ever again want to see you, red-faced and panting, galloping frantically past the cubicles toward the copy room to retrieve that confidential document, only to find that someone already gathered it up with their own stuff. And how can we avoid this unsightly spectacle? By reading on to learn how to print securely when using a network printer, that's how.
If you're sitting (or standing) at your desk and you can see the umbilical cord connecting a printer to your computer, you're not using a network printer. Your printer is there to do your bidding and no one else's. However (and this is a big however), if you and your coworkers share a printer, one that's available by anyone in your organization who knows how to connect to it, you're in a shared printer environment. And as warm and special as that sounds, that makes your documents, spreadsheets, and anything else you're sending to the copy room, vulnerable to (even unintentionally) prying eyes.
Depending on the type of printer you're connected to and how your network is set up, there is usually a way, from within your Office program, to delay printing until you're good and ready (meaning: when you're in the copy room ready to retrieve your documents). Welcome back to warm and special.
Want to learn how to do this so that you can save yourself, your documents, and your irregular running gait any embarrassing moments? Read the Crabby Office Lady's column about secure printing.
Why can't each network user be given a Security Code/Number, that they will punch-in (Login + Security Password) when they go to the NETWORK printer, and then the printer PRINTS only their document. If the user DOES not print in number of minutes, the document is trashed from printer buffer & email notification can be sent to the user. I know little work is required by H/W companies, but I guess technology is sophisticated enough these days to have this implemented. Right?
Your secure printing idea has merit, but until the H/W companies and/or software vendors provide and all agree to use such a solution, it won't solve the problem. One interim solution is the require that all paper documents be appropriately marked. Automating the marking/stamping process so every page is marked to reflect its intended purpose will, at least, prevent the unintended use of the document. Such a solution is available at http://www.stampit4word.com.