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Flexible workforces, POPIA compliance deadline raise SA focus on document management and security

The changing face of workplaces, along with a growing focus on compliance with the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA), is driving South African organisations to focus more on document management and security in their print environments.

This is according to Petr Nemec, Director of Channel Managed Print Services at Xerox, who says print is picking up after a slump during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. As it does, organisations are making document management and security a top priority. “The move to a flexible work environment and likely changes in office layouts from open plan and shared environments is one factor driving this focus on security. Another is compliance – particularly among SMEs in South Africa who are moving to become POPIA compliant ahead of the coming deadline.”

Jonathan Osbourne, Altron Document Solutions head of sales, says POPIA is a hot topic in South Africa, where stakeholders in the financial sector in particular are expecting to see an example being made of a non-compliant organisation after the deadline for compliance.

Printers, scanners and copiers are often overlooked in broader enterprise security strategies, but there are numerous risks to sensitive and personal information in this environment. According to Xerox, around 70% of organisations have had a print breach and most of these are carried out within minutes. If proper security isn’t in place, documents with sensitive and confidential data moving around the network to multifunction printers for printing, scanning and copying can be intercepted.

Osbourne notes that Altron Document Solutions is now helping a number of customers to harness intelligent tools to better secure their print environments, with features such as the ability to redact content to ensure that sensitive personal information is not visible to those who are not authorised to view it.

Says Nemec: “The most common threat in this environment is negligence. People leave their computers open with sensitive data on-screen, and they leave documents containing sensitive information on printers. It is now more important than ever to secure this data in shared places and devices, and to ensure that if a document is submitted from a device, that it is securely retrieved by the correct, authorised user. This limits the risk of negligence.”

Nemec says organisations need to take a structured approach to document management and security. “This why we designed Intelligent Workplace Services (IWS): we deliver comprehensive analytics, digitisation and cloud technologies and software, with a structured approach to creating and maintaining security. Our security motto – prevent, detect, protect – protects the environment, thereby achieving the outcome of compliance.”

To secure data in the print environment, Xerox advises that data encryption, network security and user authorisation be deployed. In addition, confidential documents should never be left unattended in paper trays. Instead, print jobs should be sent securely to the printer, and released only when the user enters a passcode or swipes an ID card. Security can also be enhanced by using image overwrite to electronically ‘shred’ documents that are held on the hard drive as part of print processing.

Xerox Workplace Suite supports best practice security – and ultimately compliance – through features such as authentication and access control, advanced content search, which generates alerts when certain terms or strings are copied, scanned or sent, and through integration with network accounting.

“Prevention is still the cheapest way to deal with security issues,” says Nemec. “Prevention should start with using the right devices with right levels of security.” Xerox ConnectKey technology-enabled devices are built to be trusted endpoints with intrusion protection, device detection and document and data protection.

“For structured security, organisations must also look at the process of printing and retrieving documents with tools to ensure that every document is encrypted, and securely submitted through a LAN, extended LAN or cloud, then securely retrieved,” he says. Xerox Printer Security Audit Service provides ongoing reporting and alerts through an interactive dashboard, making it easy to provide print security management across the entire fleet.

“In addition, admins should be able to look for sensitive words or string chains in anything printed, scanned or copied, and understand who is handling the sensitive content and whether they have clearance to do so,” Nemec says. Xerox User Analytics Service unlocks the data hidden in your print management systems to provide insight into when and where people are printing – such as after hours.

Xerox Intelligent Workplace Services uses comprehensive security, analytics, digitisation and cloud technologies and software to deliver a more seamless work experience across paper and digital platforms.

Altron Document Solutions is the world’s largest Xerox distributor and Africa’s leading technology and services company. It markets and services the complete range of Xerox document equipment, software solutions and services to 26 sub-Saharan Africa countries. Altron Document Solutions forms part of the JSE-listed Altron group.