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Monday, 05 March 2018 06:17

But what about real-world security, asks PaperCut chief

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Digital data security is all well and good, but the physical world should not be neglected because it is there that major breaches often happen, the chief executive of Melbourne-based PaperCut Software says.

Chris Dance (below, right) pointed to the recent incident where the ABC had been given stacks of government files that were in old cabinets; these had been purchased by a random individual in Canberra who, when he discovered their contents, passed the material on to the national broadcaster.

“More and more, governments and organisations are focusing on securing their network to prevent the leak of any sensitive data – and then holding organisations responsible for any breach in privacy,” said Dance.

“This is all thanks to regulations like Australia’s Notifiable Data Breaches initiative and the upcoming, widespread adoption of GDPR.

"However, the most important issue of securing private data is the often-overlooked physical world. We spend so much money on cyber-security and sometimes forget what’s just lying around."

chris dance vertDance cited one case he had heard of where patient records had been printed out and then left on a bus, and a second one of payroll being printed out and just left on a printer tray.

PaperCut provides software to companies in 170 countries. It is designed to make installation easy, ensures safety and prevents leaks in a number of ways. The cost per printer is $200.

One aspect, Dance said, was secure print release, where the documents that were printed out had watermarks and digital signatures.

"The watermark works by applying light-gray identifying text on the bottom of each page (or optionally an overlay over the page)," Dance pointed out.

"It’s deliberately visible to the end user; it acts as a reminder every time someone views a printed document; and the feeling of 'my name is on this' helps make ownership and accountability clear."

Dance said an additional feature that helped in document management and also security was discretionary printing. Here, only what was needed was printed out and in some cases only some individuals within an organisation could make the decision to create a hard copy.

He said that there was no point in finding out a document had leaked after the deed; that was way too late.

PaperCut laid emphasis on changing the culture within organisations, so that people would take ownership of documents which they printed. This reduced the chance of someone being careless enough to let that printed matter get lost, resulting in a data leak, he said.

If it did happen that someone lost documents, then those could be tracked back to the individual at fault due to the watermarks; this, Dance, created a culture of accountability that would make people much more careful in their handling, delivering and disposing of documents.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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