New Update Improves Pharos Beacon Print Security Capabilities

Release also streamlines user interface interaction for cloud-based printing

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08/31/2021

Colin McMahon

 

Cloud services and technology provider Pharos recently released updates to its Beacon print management software platform with two main goals: strengthen print security and improve user interface (UI) design. The move reflects a broader trend in the print software industry, which has seen a rise in demand for cloud-based print automation software, as well as solutions that are secure and easy to use. When considering how much business communications are now done digitally, it is easy to see why it pays to be safe.

 

One of the UI dashboards for Beacon’s cloud-based print management solution

 

Beacon’s New Security Features

There are four new focus points in the latest update—three of which are immediately available, and the fourth (FIPS 140-2 support) coming within a few weeks. The first new print security feature is single sign-on (SSO). Understandably, those unfamiliar with cybersecurity might be confused as to why SSO is a positive given the importance of multi-factor authentication, which requires a user to utilize extra measures such as their smartphone, fingerprint, or facial scan to reduce hacking risk.

 

SSO works differently. In short, every time a user creates a new account (which requires a username/password), it is an opportunity for malicious third parties. With SSO, users need only to gain access to one master account, which automatically logs them into numerous access points. You may be thinking: “But isn’t one password less secure than many?” That would be true if people actually always used a different password for each account. However, data gathered on OneLogin suggests otherwise, with nearly 60% of respondents admitting that they use the same password across multiple accounts. SSO providers tend to be more secure than the average account, not to mention their compliance advantages—meaning that, by using this tool, users are more protected against hacking and businesses risk fewer breach points into valuable data.

 

 

Beacon’s second new print security feature is Open ID or passcode authentication, which will give employees a backup method if they need to verify their identity at a printer to release a job but don’t have their ID card. This feature was already semi-present on Beacon, as hardware from HP and Konica Minolta was supported. With the update, Canon and Lexmark machines join the compatibility list.

 

Finally, it’s worth mentioning Beacon’s new second-swipe logout capabilities. As its name suggests, this feature allows users to quickly and securely log out at machines by simply swiping or tapping their ID card again on the device. This is not designed to replace touchless interfaces, but simply give users another option.

 

Cybersecurity is a growing area of importance, with print security being a particular area of concern. We’ve covered print security extensively in the past, and our market research continues to showcase its value—particularly as business shifts to being more decentralized. Cloud-based print solutions, such as Beacon, prove their value by continuing to invest and improve on their security offerings.

 

Beacon’s Improvements to Its User Interface

One of the biggest business challenges created by COVID-19 was the sudden shift to digital. Many people with limited experience interacting with computers suddenly found their entire workflow shifted into the digital space. Programmers and software providers are aware that not everyone is an engineer. This is why Pharos also made improvements to Beacon’s UI design.

 

Canon, HP, Konica Minolta, Lexmark, and Ricoh hardware have all been improved through Beacon’s new “Authentication to Home” capability. This feature streamlines the login process, taking the user directly to the device’s home screen rather than to the previous generic Pharos screen. It’s a process that only saves seconds, but this adds up in repeated usage.

 

The other notable improvement is the new Guest Printing system. As its name suggests, this system is built around streamlining print jobs coming from outside an organization. With this tool, authenticated users can invite new access to the print device via e-mail, creating a system that is link-centric, rather than relying on temporary guest accounts and passwords. Overall, the process should be quicker, as it has fewer steps. With access, the guest can print what they need before they are automatically removed from the system.

 

 

Beacon and the Growing Value of Secure Cloud-Based Print

Pharos is far from the only company improving its cloud-based print management platform. The pandemic has pushed many businesses toward decentralized workflow, meaning print jobs and functions have to be managed over an increasingly remote network. Cloud-based print solutions relieve the stress of confining secure business to on-premise servers.

 

That said, the evolving cybersecurity landscape has its perils, especially when proper precautions aren’t taken. Cloud-based print management providers have to ensure print security without creating a system that is too complex for the average user. Beacon’s latest improvements show it is aware of these two crucial areas and working to develop a product that is consistently secure, yet accessible. At Keypoint Intelligence, we see and test many print management software solutions such as this—so I’m confident when I say this is a product that is taking print security seriously.

 

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