Print security challenge as pharmaceuticals move to hybrid working

Like other sectors, pharmaceuticals have embraced the benefits of hybrid working. Leaders from the biggest firms like GSK Consumer Healthcare, Pfizer, and Novartis have said the future workplace model will be flexible with more people given the choice to work from home, in the office, or a mix of both. This is according to Colin Bosher, CEO, EKM Global.

There seems to be a consensus that hybrid working improves productivity, helps make the workforce more diverse, and attracts and retains the best talent in the industry. Yet the move to hybrid working in pharmaceuticals comes with risks that, while acknowledged, are difficult to mitigate. Among these is how pharmaceutical companies maintain oversight over sensitive medical documents and prevent their unauthorised distribution.

Before the pandemic, the challenge was how to ensure remote sales staff were keeping medical documentation safe and not distributing it illegally. With the classification of who is a remote worker now significantly widened the risks and obstacles are significantly increased.

Naturally, the industry is looking to focus on how it can mitigate the dangers. Minds have been concentrated on how many pharmaceutical firms have been targeted by cybercriminals with an estimated 4.5M exposed records. Failures to prevent mistakes or fraudulent activities with medical records controlled by pharmaceutical firms have contributed to the industry being heavily fined in many jurisdictions.

Cybersecurity measures can prevent and reduce cyber-attacks on sensitive digital data and records, but they cannot stop the non-sanctioned printing and distribution of sensitive information. Two-thirds of all businesses report print-related data losses and their confidence in how their business secures printer processes has fallen since the pandemic, which could be linked to how many staff members are working from home or flexibly.

What is required at pharmaceutical firms and others at risk are managed print solutions that can oversee and control who, what, where, and why sensitive documents are being printed. Clear audit trails are necessary as is the capability to prevent the printing of key documents without clear authorisation.

But getting secure printer management capability overlaying a very fragmented and distributed printer fleet located in people’s homes as much as their offices are difficult. Centrally controlled enterprise-class infrastructure can be deployed quickly across multiple vendors’ devices, avoiding the delays and prohibitive costs, and complexities of deploying new fleets of secure printers into home and remote offices. The utilisation of a non-intrusive smart app monitors printer usage. Real-time data analytics are collected to check on how specific documents are being printed and the pharmaceutical company’s policy on documentation privacy is automatically applied and enforced in remote and central locations equally.

Adoption of this kind of technology can bring added benefits for both staff and the company. The same monitoring technology can be used to predict when a printer needs a new cartridge and automatically order and arrange delivery before the printer runs out of ink. Optimising supplies help control print costs while ensuring worker productivity is not interrupted. Providing a better end-user experience also facilitates the introduction of more controls and oversight.

Print security will enable the transition to hybrid working to be a success for what is a highly regulated industry in which sensitive data and documentation are regularly updated, accessed, and shared.

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