Safeguarding information is a fact of life. Whether it's the password to your e-mail account, the key to your home's front door or the personal identification number for your ATM card, you use these mechanisms to keep sensitive information private and secure. Printing documents is no different. In today's networked environments, where computer and printer may be hundreds of feet or even hundreds of miles from each other, assuring the security of print jobs along every foot of wire, or from one end of the Internet to the other, is a fundamental - and growing - concern.
Responding to the growing concerns expressed by customers, Lexmark's engineers developed the Lexmark PrintCryption Card, a device that addresses these issues by safeguarding the security of print jobs. The card is a firmware option that installs inside Lexmark's network printers and MFPs and works over any wired or wireless network running TCP/IP: LANs, WANs, intranets, extranets, and the Internet.
Each time a mainframe or UNIX workstation creates a print job, an encryption program running on it initiates a communications session with the destination printer's Lexmark PrintCryption card. Both computer and printer agree on a randomly generated encryption key, essentially a complex password of 128, 192 or 256 bits in length. Keys are generated in accordance with the Advanced Encryption Standard, a federal standard. The computer uses this key to encrypt the print job and then route it over the TCP/IP network to the printer.
As the print job traverses the network or Internet, it is no less vulnerable to pilferage than before, but now it cannot be interpreted by any other device - or person. Only a Lexmark printer equipped with a PrintCryption Card that is programmed with the identical key can decrypt the data, transforming it back into a useable print job. When the print job arrives at the printer, the PrintCryption card analyzes it. If the electronic key "fits", the file is decrypted and printed. If the key is not a match, the print job is discarded.
As for that mutually agreed-to encryption key, it expires upon completion of the print job. To ensure security, Lexmark's PrintCryption card generates a new session key for each print job. Unencrypted print jobs will print normally.