But there are other serious security issues, as spotlighted in a CBS News special report that ran in April 2010. Reporters went to a warehouse stocked with copiers that had been returned from lease, bought four and examined the contents of their hard drives for images of documents that the machines had copied or scanned. They found lists of sex offenders in Buffalo, NY; 95 pages of a construction company's pay stubs with Social Security numbers; plans for a building in Manhattan near Ground Zero and 300 pages of medical records.
"Before the report, none of the vendors were encrypting the data on the hard drives," says data-capture expert Spencer. "Now, they all do."
Other forms of security include authentication procedures intended to control use by identifying the users. Each user can have a configuration profile that limits or monitors his or her use. For instance, only users in the marketing department might use color and all users might have a limit of how many pages they can print. Authentication can be done via log-in, or with card or badge readers attached to the print server, as is the case in the Park Hill school district.
"Anything costing more than a thousand dollars has security features that let you control access," says Jamieson. "It's a matter of actually implementing those features."
Indeed, "We have more than 1,500 security features, but most customers have no idea what they are and how to use them," acknowledges HP's Laing. So HP has come up with an interface involving seven questions, which sets the options based on the answers, he adds.
Sources add that limitations are also sometimes imposed based on the application that does the printing. For instance, software that prints e-mail may be limited to black and white, while spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations are allowed to use color.
Sandt says that most of the Park Hill district's savings came from an 11 percent reduction in printing that resulted from the use of pull printing. He also found that, previously, 8 percent of printouts were never picked up, which poses a security risk.
Monitoring who prints what is important for financial as well as security reasons, since higher-end printers are typically acquired with service contracts that include replacement ink or toner (and possibly paper). The buyer is charged for each page printed, at a rate typically lower than the retail cost of ink or toner. Park Hill's Sandt, for instance, said he was able to cut his district's per-page cost for color printing by 70 percent through this kind of contract.
Sources agree that the going rate is a penny or two for black and white, and eight to 13 cents for color. But if you print an e-mail that includes a single URL with a blue underline, is that a color page? The answer varies by vendor.
For instance, Haffner says that Xerox's software differentiates between strict black and white, tiny uses of color, moderate uses of color and full color. The system will charge the black and white rate if there are only underlined URLs, and half the color rate for spreadsheets with highlighted cells, he says. Color brochures are, of course, charged the full color rate. Around 70 percent of use falls into the black and white or partial color category, he adds.
Sandt, whose contract is with Konica Minolta, says that one URL will cause a page to be charged for color, so the print drivers are set to gray-scale by default. Individual users, meanwhile, have a quota of color pages they can print.