Public libraries serve as vital community resources, offering a wide range of services, including printing facilities. However, as libraries continue to embrace technology, it becomes increasingly important to ensure the security and privacy of patrons’ and the libraries’ printing activities.

A recent example that illustrates this topic was the critical vulnerability found in PaperCut products. This vulnerability exploitation “…allows attackers to remotely execute arbitrary code (RCE) on vulnerable systems, potentially giving them access to sensitive data and compromising the security of entire networks” as stated in the Logpoint post. You can read about the specifics of the incident HERE.

In this post, we will explore the vulnerabilities and security risks of printing services at public libraries and discuss how Princh can help protect your library and patron privacy.

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Vulnerabilities at your library

Secure Printing: Many libraries and patrons’ resort to insecure printing methods due to the limitations of available solutions. Security and confidentiality are often overlooked, leading to risks. For instance, some libraries rely on patrons emailing staff members or using a shared email account for submitting confidential documents. This exposes the library to potential liability and the burden of managing access, storage, and deletion of sensitive materials.

Scanning Security: Both patrons and libraries are vulnerable to security risks when scanning and sending documents. Attaching scanned documents to vulnerable email systems is not ideal, as it can be intercepted or accessed by unauthorized individuals. Libraries should invest in a secure solution, that utilizes an external mail server to safely email patrons. Scanned documents should not be attached but made accessible through an encrypted, password-protected link to enhance security.

Secure Release: Patron printing activities can be private or confidential, and it is important to treat them as such. Staff members should not have easy access to or view patron documents. Implementing a secure release mechanism ensures that only the patron can release the print job at the printer, ensuring safe and secure collection of their documents.

Encryption of Documents: Encrypting patron documents while in transit from the device to the printer is crucial. Libraries should actively adopt solutions that provide end-to-end encryption for documents, both in transit and at rest. For libraries outside of the European Union, it is strongly recommended to choose a solution that complies with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). For libraries within the EU, this compliance is mandatory.

Secure Payment: A printing solution with payment capabilities is beneficial, but the security of patrons’ payment information should be a priority. Look for a solution that is PCI-compliant, offering the highest level of security. Ideally, sensitive payment information should remain on the patron’s device and not be entered into any public devices, minimizing the risk of compromise.

Library Setup: When selecting a solution, prioritize one that helps maintain the existing security protocols in place. Everything from what user group needs to run the application or service all the way to what ports the solution uses can be the difference between a secure and insecure printing solution. If setups or security protocols are not taken seriously, libraries could be unintentionally exposing their patrons’ personal information similar to the above-mentioned PaperCut vulnerability exploitation.

Private, secure and fully compliant with GDPR

The Princh printing, copying, scanning and payment solution is a private, safe and secure cloud-based software. Below are some of the measures Princh is taking to protect your users’ privacy.

  1. All documents are end-to-end encrypted, meaning only the locally installed Princh Cloud Connector and the selected printer can decrypt them
  2. All documents are deleted from the system after 24 hours
  3. Staff have the option to mask document names in the Princh Admin Panel
  4. Our secure release feature allows users to manually release the print jobs when they are physically at the printer
  5. For further information on our privacy practices, please get in contact with us.

Prioritize security

As public libraries continue to provide essential printing services to the public, prioritizing secure and safe printing practices becomes imperative. Public libraries should aim to strike a balance between accessibility and security, ensuring that public libraries remain trusted spaces for information access while upholding the highest standards of privacy and data protection even when it comes to printing.

We will be back next week with another interesting article from the library world!

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Marc Lapointe

Marc is a content writer for the Princh Library Blog. Princh, which is a printing solution designed specifically for and with public libraries, makes a consistent effort to provide advocacy for libraries and library professionals. The Princh blog discusses library specific topics that inform their readers of library trends, insights, technologies and more.

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