Printed Data Needs Protection Too

Most of the focus of data protection and data loss prevention is on digital data. Organizations have policies that dictate what information can or cannot be shared via email, social network, or other online methods, and there are tools in place to monitor for violations and try to detect and prevent sensitive data from leaving the network.

What all of this fails to address, though, is that if you take that same sensitive information and print it on paper, it still poses a data loss risk and needs to be monitored and protected. There seem to be an alarming and escalating number of incidents involving information being exposed or compromised through improper handling or disposal of hard copy printouts. Just recently, a prison in Scotland, and a county government office in Arizona have made the mistake of exposing sensitive data by tossing it out without regard for its confidentiality.

Make sure you have policies in place that dictate how printed sensitive data should be handled and disposed of. You should also have tools in place that monitor the sensitive data that is sent to printers within the organization so you at least have a record of what information might be exposed.