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Award winning compliance and Data Loss Prevention tools

Analysts at Keypoint Intelligence – Buyers Lab (BLI) have just named FollowMe by Ringdale as the Outstanding Data Loss Prevention (DLP) Solution in their 2018 Software Pick Awards. PrintIT caught up with Ringdale’s director of strategic alliances, Eric Crump, to find out why businesses should take advantage of this feature and how FollowMe differs from other DLP solutions on the market.

In the last 12 months, security has become a key differentiator for printer and MFP vendors. As the financial and reputational penalties for a data breach have increased – and could rise further in May when GDPR comes into force – it makes sense to secure network print devices through intrusion detection, whitelisting, encryption, self-healing BIOS and other tools.

Good as they are, such measures only address part of the problem, principally external threats and network vulnerabilities. In too many businesses, paper output remains untraceable – printed data can be quickly and easily removed, often without the victim ever being aware that their data security has been compromised.

Secure pull printing solutions that require users to authenticate themselves at a device before a document is printed minimise the risk of a visitor or a contractor taking pages left in a network printer’s output tray. But pull printing on its own won’t stop a corrupt employee from printing and removing corporate or customer data.

To prevent insiders from stealing data assets you need something more than just secure printing. You need a means of monitoring the content of print jobs and, where appropriate, preventing them from being printed. This is especially important for organisations in the financial, retail, government and healthcare sectors that might hold ID details, sensitive personal information and credit card numbers.

Data Loss Prevention

Many businesses already make use of Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solutions provided by companies like Symantec, Digital Guardian and Intel Security to monitor digital communications for key words or patterns (e.g. strings of numbers). Few organisations apply the same supervision to printed documents, even though print jobs contain the same confidential or valuable data.

FollowMe, introduced by Ringdale in 1997, offers DLP as an integrated feature and has just been recognised by Keypoint Intelligence – Buyers Lab (BLI) as the Outstanding Data Loss Prevention (DLP) Solution in their 2018 Software Pick Awards.

Eric Crump, Director of Strategic Alliances at Ringdale, says that FollowMe has had some form of DLP capability since it invented the FollowMe concept 20 years ago, but that it is now an even greater focus for the company.

“FollowMe printing is actually a Data Loss Prevention product in itself. Because you have to tap your badge or type a PIN before you can release a print job, you are already preventing the loss of information that typically just sits in the output bin. As reported by Quocirca this year, 61% of companies have had a data breach due to paper sitting in the output bin,” he said.

“Over the last six years, as customers have told us they want to protect certain information, we have been able to work together to deliver bespoke DLP solutions that enable them to prevent data breaches by monitoring print jobs for account numbers, key words and national ID numbers. Then, in August 2016, we introduced DLP as an integrated capability for our partners.”

Crump says DLP is a growing requirement for mid-market to very large enterprises, such as banks, insurance companies, retail, government and healthcare organisations. “They need to protect data, and that needs to go beyond just printing with a badge,” he said.

FollowMe does this by analysing the content of a print job as it goes from the desktop or mobile device to the printer. If it detects a key word or number string, it can stop a print job from printing, send an email alert and archive a copy for further processing, to ascertain whether there has been a breach of security. Where printing is authorised, documents can be printed with a ‘Confidential’ watermark, the action recorded and an administrator alerted.

Managing high risk areas

With the content monitoring solution available to partners, Ringdale is continuing to assist them to win new business by incorporating these enhanced IT security countermeasures into their security offerings.

“We work with partners and their customers to understand what kind of information they are trying to protect and who has access to that information. Together, we build a strategy around document security that is consistent with what they are doing in their IT strategy,” he said.

FollowMe uncovers high risk areas and enables organisations to understand how they are processing data, in order to apply the relevant level of control to secure and make the printing process compliant.

One area that Ringdale takes great care over is change management, so that if an employee does print something they shouldn’t, perhaps accidentally, they receive an email or print-out explaining that their attempt to print the document was in contravention of the company’s document security policy.

Crump points out that, as well as demonstrating the company’s commitment to document security, such messages help reduce help desk calls from people who don’t know why a document isn’t printing.

Vendor-neutral solution

Another way in which Ringdale has an advantage over other solutions is support for multi-vendor print fleets. This, says Crump, is critical when dealing with mid-market and large enterprises that might have legacy devices and different brand choices in regional or branch offices.

“There are plenty of basic pull printing solutions on the market today. But when you start looking at very specific customer requirements, there’s less choice. For example, we are one of the only multi-vendor fleet DLP providers on the market. Quocirca says 70% of organisations have a mixed vendor fleet. A solution from one of the OEMs is not going to work effectively across a multi-vendor fleet. For that, you need an advanced solution like FollowMe.”

FollowMe is also designed to work efficiently and economically across multiple sites. Branch Office Printing, for example, removes the need for and cost of a dedicated print server in every office.

“We have lightweight software that runs on a workstation and does the work of the server. It holds the print job and waits until you tap a badge on the printer before releasing it. Then it sends that auditing information back to the head office. It just sends small bits of information back to the server at head office rather than the whole print job,” explained Crump.

He adds that the DLP component works in the same way, depending on what the customer wants to achieve, making it easier and cheaper for multi-site organisations to apply consistent data security controls across their entire enterprise.

The same applies to mobile devices. “If someone is printing from a smartphone or tablet, we can analyse the documents coming from those devices. Some competing products don’t support printing from mobile devices as a native capability and have to add another package from another vendor. This involves another server agreement and another level of complexity. With FollowMe, DLP and mobile printing are part of the native product so anything that is printed is audited, analysed and managed.”

GDPR compliance

FollowMe’s ability to secure data through the monitoring and management of print jobs from computers, tablets and smartphones plugs a hole in many a data security strategy and enables organisations to apply the same control to printed information that is routinely applied to email and digital assets.

Ringdale customers already use FollowMe’s secure print and DLP capabilities to ensure compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), Gramm- Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS). The solution can also help organisations meet the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and be advantageous for on-going data protection impact assessments (DPIAs).

“We believe that less than 25% of organisations are going to be GDPR-ready by the deadline,” warned Crump. “We know that most are not considering printing as part of that scenario. Quocirca research shows that a minority (48%) have considered printing as part of their GDPR strategy – and while they may have considered it, we don’t know whether they have introduced solutions or processes to secure their infrastructure and improve their document processes. Organisations need to check whether printing is being considered as part of their GDPR strategy and then act.”

By combining output management tracking and control with a Data Loss Prevention engine, FollowMe provides a complete solution encompassing both proactive (secure print, DLP) and reactive (reporting) measures to ensure compliance.

To find out more about FollowMe, please call the Ringdale team on 01444 871349 or alternatively download the BLI solution assessment from

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