UK businesses still failing to protect confidential documents


Despite numerous high profile security breach scare stories, the majority of UK companies are still failing to fully protect confidential printed information.

So claims a report published this week by Lightspeed Research as part of a Samsung-sponsored survey of more than 4,500 employees.

According to the report's findings, nearly half (47 per cent) of UK employees were not aware of any printing security processes or technology within their organisations.

What's more, a further 80 per cent did not realise that many network printers store all recent documentation on an easy to remove hard drive - making the UK the worst in Europe for understanding the security implications. More than three-quarters (76 per cent) were also unaware that a network printer could be hacked in a similar way to a PC.

The report found the UK's banking and finance sectors as the worst offenders with a reported 40 per cent of respondents having seen confidential and sensitive documents left in the printer tray.

However, even IT departments failed to measure up in the report with 50 per cent not seeing the dangers associated with removable hard drive systems. A further 39 per cent were completely unaware that printers could be hacked.

The UK Health sector did marginally better in the report with only just over a third (37 per cent) of respondents saying they found personal patient information left in the printer. However, some 44 per cent of the main offenders in the health sector were people working in marketing, operations, finance and IT.

Many respondents had viewed personal information about their colleagues from discarded documents in the print tray, including salary details, performance appraisals and CV information.

Consequently, the report revealed that 65 per cent of all respondents recognised the severity of a confidential information leak outside their organisation. None, however, were unaware of the risks associated with uncontrolled printing, indicating the necessity of tackling the issue.

"The potential for security breaches is vast and can only be overcome if employees in each and every sector are educated around the pitfalls of leaving abandoned documents, and with the help of a controlled printing process," said Geoff Slaughter, director of Samsung Print in the UK, in a statement.

"This includes ensuring the simplest measures are taken, including introducing document shredders and PIN codes on printers."