Multi-Function Devices (MFD) have become an integral part of a school’s office equipment, providing increased productivity and convenience.
However, with nearly all MFDs networked over an Internet Protocol with advanced connectivity and accessibility, the potential security risk also increases.
Below, The Educator speaks to Adam O'Neill, Y Soft’s Australian managing director, about the risks associated with multifunction devices, and how schools can mitigate them
TE: When it comes to multifunction devices in classrooms, what are the biggest risks for schools in a network security context?
AO: The biggest risk when it comes to multifunction devices (MFDs) is that they are mistakenly not considered a risk at all. While data breaches are top of mind, a school’s enterprise workflow infrastructure must also be considered for the security of private information. The MFD has become an integral piece of school office equipment, providing increased productivity and convenience. However, with nearly all MFDs networked over an Internet Protocol with advanced connectivity and accessibility, the potential security risks also increase, and should be considered a weak link within the IT infrastructure that needs to be addressed.
TE: In your view, how can MFD connections/security be best protected?
AO: There are six key security areas in the enterprise workflow infrastructure/MFD connection that should be protected. These include device and network access; secure pull-printing; secure mobile printing; usage reporting and tracking; MFD hard drive security; and data encryption. The potential for extreme consequences from a security breach has put security and data protection high up on the list of business challenges, meaning that schools need a solution that reduces security risks by combining print security, document security, and device access control with no additional demands placed on users, other than simple authentication at the MFD.
TE: One of the six key security areas noted was secure mobile printing. Can you tell us more about this, and what schools should know?
AO: Schools are increasingly mobile, and the tools and devices used are rapidly changing and not always secure. The demand to print from any device and bring your own device (BYOD) initiatives has created both flexibility and risk. Staff and students can now easily connect their personal smartphones, tablets, and laptops to the print network. While this is convenient and efficient, it creates new entry points for potential risks.
TE: There has been talk of banning smartphones from Australian classrooms. Could this have a positive impact on schools’ network security?
AO: Any device that is introduced onto the school network, including the print network, should adhere to the school’s security policies and procedures. While banning smartphones from Australian classrooms may reduce the number of devices that schools have to monitor, it only takes one to cause a security incident. Therefore, if the aim of the ban is to improve security, then the focus should be on making sure these policies and procedures are appropriate rather than restricting the devices allowed in schools.