8 ways to print securely with Canon printers

Whether you work in an office or remotely, here's how you can take advantage of Canon PIXMA and MAXIFY printer features to print securely and protect sensitive or confidential information.
A Canon MAXIFY printer sits on a table in an office, while a group of people talk to each other in the background.

Secure printing solutions are an essential requirement in the modern work environment. The desire for hybrid working and more meaningful mobile solutions continues to make demands on the security of networks and their connected devices – including printers.

Whether it's being used to print out invoices, copy contracts or scan sensitive documents, an all-in-one printer continues to be at the heart of the office. Being accessible to multiple users across multiple locations brings convenience to a business, but also increases cyber security risks at the same time.

So how can you produce hard copies when you need them but also protect confidential information and maintain general data security?

As Canon Europe Product Marketing Specialist Zubair Rahim explains, the latest Canon MAXIFY and PIXMA printers come with a range of secure printing functions. "If you're using one of the printers in the MAXIFY GX range, such as the GX4050 and GX3050 home office models, or the GX5050, GX6050 and GX7050 small office models, then you'll not only enjoy a high yield but also a high degree of printing security," he says.

Compliance with GDPR and other data protection regulations around the world means that businesses are required to ensure the security and privacy of personal information. Printers present a potential vulnerability here, with the possibility of unauthorised access to confidential data. While this depends more on the processes rather than the hardware a business uses, there are several functions built into Canon's latest printers that enhance printing security and reduce the risk of breaching data protection requirements.

Here, we highlight the key steps that you can take to ensure secure printing and safeguard sensitive documents.

1. Secure printing from and scanning to the cloud via Cloud Link

A user scanning a document on a Canon MAXIFY printer, with one finger poised near the printer's control panel.

Storing, accessing and managing documents via a cloud service is both more secure and easier for remote workers. With Canon PIXMA/MAXIFY Cloud Link, documents can be printed from and scanned to services such as Google Drive™ and Microsoft OneDrive®, directly from the printer.

There are numerous risks associated with keeping sensitive data on a computer or laptop. The device could be stolen or hacked into, and the data storage hardware could fail or become corrupted. Storing data and documents in the cloud gives an additional layer of protection, and enables secure printing from and scanning to popular cloud services via Canon PIXMA/MAXIFY Cloud Link.

"You can access Cloud Link through the printer's screen, if it's equipped with one, or by using the Canon PRINT app on a smartphone," explains Zubair. "Organisations are able to keep documents centralised within a shared account on Google Drive™, Dropbox™, the Evernote® service and Microsoft OneDrive®, so there's no need to have multiple copies stored locally."

Google Classroom™ is now incorporated into Cloud Link as well, which gives teachers and students the ability to print shared documents and scan straight to a Google Drive folder from the printer.

2. Set an administrator password

A Canon MAXIFY printer sits next to scattered papers on a table.

Hardware-based print security measures available on selected Canon PIXMA and MAXIFY printers include the ability to set an administrator password and allow only authorised people to access the printer screen and functions.

A simple and convenient option is the ability to set up an administrator password to restrict unauthorised access to the printer on networked Canon MAXIFY and PIXMA printers. The administrator can configure up to 20 authorised users on the printer, each of whom can be assigned an individual password. Without the password, the screen remains locked. This helps ensure that the printer cannot be used or its settings tampered with by anyone just walking up to the printer. "This is a particularly useful security feature for printers that are located in a public space," says Zubair. "It means that you can set up all the Wi-Fi and LAN settings and lock it all down with the administrator password.

"You're able to control what permitted users can do too. You can restrict copying to just black and white, for example, or restrict scanning functions such as scanning to a USB flash drive (if applicable) or access to the Cloud via the printer screen."

3. Make the most of Remote UI

A hand holds a smartphone with the Canon PRINT app open, with a Canon MAXIFY printer on a table.

"The Canon PRINT app is the gateway tool to the printer whether you're working remotely or in the office, enabling you to print, scan, copy, check logs, change security and printer settings," says Zubair. The app is available on Android and iOS.

As well as enabling secure printing functions on the printer itself, it's possible to manage the device and users remotely using Canon's Remote UI.

Remote UI can be accessed directly through a web browser or the Canon PRINT app. It enables you to configure printer settings, run maintenance tasks and, crucially, change passwords, restrict access and configure printer security authentication protocols.

"All of these protocols can be managed via Remote UI," Zubair adds. "AirPrint and Bonjour settings, and the ways in which people can access a printer, can also be modified. This can be useful if you're in a fixed location, whether that's an office or home, and you want only users within that location to be using that printer – you can restrict IP access, and allow only those IP addresses you know and trust to connect with the device."

4. Monitor the job log

A print emerges from a Canon MAXIFY printer on an office desk with piles of papers around it. Five people sit at desks in the background.

The Canon MAXIFY GX4050 is equipped with a 2.7-inch LCD touchscreen that can be used to set an administrator password, manage users, and display job history.

If you're the administrator or the main user of a printer and you suspect that someone's misusing the device or accessing it when they're not allowed to, you can pinpoint that using the printer's job log.

"It's a simple print job history, which enables you to track any unusual printing behaviour," Zubair explains. "So if there is an unusual amount of print jobs, or they're going through at times when you know that no one was supposed to be using the printer, then (assuming you have set up an administrator password) you can access the job log on-screen on a printer that's equipped with one."

5. Strengthen security with automatic firmware updates

On a desk, a Canon MAXIFY printer sits next to a lamp, laptop, screen, plant and stationery.

Printer firmware updates can include security patches, so it's worth checking that the printer's firmware version is up to date. You can install an update manually, although some models, including the Canon MAXIFY GX3050, can do this automatically.

Updating the firmware on a smartphone, tablet or computer is a routine part of modern life, and various updates are sometimes available for printers too.

Previously, you'd have had to either follow the on-screen prompts to install the latest firmware or check the printer's firmware version on the device itself. You could also update it manually by using Remote UI or checking the Canon support site to see if a new version has been released.

"Now, some of the latest printers, such as the Canon MAXIFY GX3050 and Canon MAXIFY GX4050, have automatic firmware updates," Zubair points out. "These models ensure that the latest updates are installed."

6. Activate an original removal reminder

Safeguarding sensitive information is an important consideration when using the scanner or copy function of an all-in-one printer. It's all too easy to inadvertently leave a document on the glass, for example, which an unauthorised person could later find.

To address this concern, many new Canon multifunction printers now provide the option to set a reminder prompting you to remove the original document.

"Once you've enabled this function," Zubair explains, "the printer will display a prompt on the screen as well as give an audio reminder approximately a minute after you've made a scan or copy that you've left the document on the platen."

7. Add a watermark with Stamp/Background printing

If you're printing confidential documents, then the Stamp/Background printing function in models in the Canon PIXMA and MAXIFY printer ranges provides additional security.

"It's almost like applying a watermark to the document," Zubair says. "The Stamp function enables you to print very light text or a bitmap stamp behind the document data. You can choose a date, time or username, for example, allowing you to highlight the sensitive nature of the document, and track and trace any copies that go missing."

8. Secure printing with TLS 1.3 encryption

A person places a sheet of paper on the scanner of a Canon MAXIFY printer.

Although it's not commonly used in the home office environment, IP address filtering is a feature that's available on many Canon PIXMA and MAXIFY printers. It enables you to restrict which IP addresses can access the printer to print or change settings.

The latest version of the Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption protocol is faster and provides improved security when it comes to the connection of a printer and a router. Canon has introduced TLS 1.3 support in the Canon MAXIFY GX4050 and GX3050.

"The previous version – TLS 1.2 – is still secure and is the most commonly used encryption protocol across networks," Zubair affirms, "but we're introducing TLS 1.3 to our devices to ensure they're in line with the better encryption that modern devices are being equipped with.

"Unlike a lot of the hands-on secure printing functions that we've introduced in our MAXIFY and PIXMA models, some users may not even notice features like TLS 1.3 encryption for data protection and WPA3 support, which offers improvements in connectivity and network protection from security risks such as eavesdropping and spoofing. But we're making these additions in the background to make sure that printing is more secure."

In these always-connected times, it is important to ensure that sensitive information is protected. The security features and functions in Canon printers can help ensure that your printing is as secure as possible and the information in your printed documents is safe.

Written by Marcus Hawkins

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  1. Google, Google Classroom and Google Drive are trademarks of Google LLC, and this site is not endorsed by or affiliated with Google in any way.
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  3. Evernote is a registered trademark of Evernote Corporation.
  4. Microsoft OneDrive is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the USA and other countries.