How & Where to Print Sensitive Documents on a Shared Printer

1800 Office SOlutions Team member - Elie Vigile
1800 Team

Where to Print Sensitive Documents

Protecting sensitive information is essential across all industries. It can be tricky, especially when using a shared printer, as users might not know where their confidential documents will end up.

One potential, though impractical, solution is to buy a printer for each employee. A more feasible and economical option is to use a shared printer or multifunction device with Managed Print technology. This setup ensures the secure printing of confidential documents.

This way, you can mitigate the risk of privacy breaches while utilizing a printing service that keeps sensitive documents safe and maintains document confidentiality.

Where to Print Sensitive Documents on a Shared Printer

Here are the most suitable printing options.

Pull Printing (or Follow Printing)

Pull printing, also known as Follow Printing, is a secure two-step process designed for all file types. It ensures that information remains fully protected as it never leaves the user’s control, regardless of the environment, whether it’s a PC, Mac, mobile device, or Chromebook.

First, the user initiates a print job from their device, sending it to a universal print driver. Then, to finalize the printing process, they must “pull” the print job from the driver to any pull print-enabled printer. This is done by authenticating the request, either through a graphical user interface (GUI) command or by physically interacting with the printer.

This method of printing adds an extra layer of security by ensuring that confidential documents are only printed when the user is present to authorize the request, reducing the risk of unauthorized access to sensitive information.

User Authentication

User authentication ensures that only the individual who initiated a print job can retrieve the documents from the printer. Many multifunction printers (MFPs) can be easily configured to require user authentication before releasing the print job.

This secure printing method is similar to pull printing but with some distinct differences: Users specify and send jobs to specific printer drivers and devices instead of having universal access, and printing is completed using one of four methods to maintain optimal information security:

  1. Browser-Based Release: Users can release print jobs from their PC, Mac, Chromebook, or mobile device using a web-based app accessible through a browser.
  2. Badge/Card Reader Release: Access to printers is granted through card readers, fobs, or badge swipes, and authentication is done through the company’s existing badge system. Users are assigned to specific printers, so their badges won’t work on all equipment.
  3. Personal ID Number (PIN) Release: User-specific PINs safeguard confidential information, ensuring that print jobs initiated by a specific user can only be accessed by entering the corresponding PIN.
  4. Username/Password: Users can release print jobs by entering their confidential password, adding an extra layer of security.

Implementing secure printing on your shared printer or multifunction device not only protects sensitive information but also reduces unintended printing and the number of unclaimed print jobs, saving significant time, money, and resources in the long run.

Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) is a widely used security measure in organizations to protect databases and confidential information. Printers can also enhance security by incorporating 2FA, where users are required to provide two forms of authentication from options such as badge/card reader, personal ID number (PIN), username/password, or browser-based release. Additionally, printers can integrate push notifications to users’ mobile devices for an added layer of authentication.

Print Management Software

While most high-quality printers have built-in security features, it’s advisable to install print management software such as uniFLOW or PaperCut for enhanced security settings, especially when printing confidential documents. These software solutions are compatible with a wide range of devices and offer various authentication methods.

Print Management Software

In addition to strengthening print security and authentication, this software provides reporting functionalities to track print activities, including who is printing what and from which device. Audit trails offered by these systems ensure compliance with regulations like HIPAA and FERPA. Organizations can also monitor printing costs across departments, users, and shared accounts, identifying potential savings.

Whether printing sensitive documents at home, in a library, or at the office, utilizing print management software adds an extra layer of security to ensure that only authorized users can securely print their documents, track print activities, and manage printing costs effectively.

 Establish Print Policies

Implementing robust print policies is essential to complement software, encryption, and authentication measures in ensuring comprehensive print security. While much focus is placed on addressing external threats like cyberattacks, internal document security is equally crucial. One common security pitfall is sending documents to the wrong printer or neglecting to collect printed materials.

In addition to technological safeguards, it’s vital to enforce physical security protocols:

  1. Place printers and devices in secure locations.
  2. Avoid discarding confidential pages in trash or recycling bins.
  3. Double-check the selected printer before initiating a print job.
  4. Clear paper jams promptly and either delete the print job or retrieve remaining pages after clearing the jam.
  5. Implement a policy for handling unclaimed print jobs.

Establishing clear print policies for document printing and retrieval is a cornerstone of print security. It’s important to ensure that all users are trained on these policies and know where to seek clarification or assistance when needed. Regular reinforcement of these practices is key to maintaining a secure printing environment.

Proper Disposal of Old Printers

Security considerations extend beyond just replacing old printers; the data stored in a printer’s memory must be properly erased before recycling or disposal.

Consult the manufacturer of your print device to ascertain the recommended method for removing printer memory. When engaging with a Managed Print Services provider, they should offer services to securely erase document history from machines at their end-of-life stage. Ensure to inquire about this service while evaluating potential providers to partner with.

Enlist a Managed Print Provider

Partnering with a Managed Print Services provider such as 1800 Office Solutions offers a comprehensive solution for ensuring printer security and timely hardware and software updates. Their team of print security experts specializes in safeguarding confidential information and can assist in selecting the most suitable printers for your organization’s needs.

What People Also Ask

Is it safe to print sensitive documents at the library?

Printing sensitive documents at the library may not be the safest option. While public printers are convenient, they are shared devices, increasing the risk of unauthorized access to your confidential information. It’s always safer to print sensitive documents at home, where you have more control over the security of your printing environment.

How do I print confidential information?

To print confidential information securely, follow these steps:

  1. Encrypt Sensitive Data: Encrypt your print jobs to make the information unreadable without the decryption key, even if intercepted.
  2. Use Secure Authentication: Implement secure authentication methods such as card readers or biometric scanners to verify user identities before allowing access to print jobs.


In conclusion, prioritizing print security is paramount in today’s digital landscape. Utilizing Managed Print Services providers like 1800 Office Solutions can significantly enhance your organization’s print security posture. Their expertise in securing confidential information, coupled with proactive hardware and software updates, ensures a robust and secure printing environment.

By enlisting the support of such providers, you not only mitigate security risks but also streamline print management processes for optimal efficiency and productivity.

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