Print sensitive info without leaving data on the printer



  • I'm not sure if there is already a question here about this because I can't find anything. But I'm wondering if there are any "safer" ways to print sensitive information without leaving traces on the printer (sensitive data in caches, internal memory, etc.), or at least ways to reduce those traces.

    Suppose I need to print some codes, passwords, secret data, or anything sensitive anyway. After you have printed the data, you can put the sheet in a safe place (like a safe), but the printer is going to remain in its usual place where it could be accessed by a malicious actor (I don't think many people lock their printers in a safe).

    This might be equivalent to asking how to delete any data left in the memory of a printer, or at least reduce the probability of leaving any sensitive data in it. Maybe printing some more megabytes of documents after the sensitive data will help "overwriting" the memory on the printer? I have no idea.



  • High-End laser printers (and copiers) often have hard drives that store a significant history of documents, so this would be the worst option.

    SoHo laser printers don't generally have hard drives but laser printers are page printers, an entire page of content is held in memory. Standard practice is to print several benign pages afterward to flush the memory. If you are more concerned, powering down the printer for a few minutes should dissipate any memory content remaining.

    Inkjet printers are line devices, they have no need to store a page of content as they are only spewing several lines of ink in a rastered pattern. Very low end Windows ink-jet printers use the windows computer for formatting and serializing the ink lines. Higher end inkjets will hold pages like a laser printer and serialize the ink sprays internally. Like the SoHo laser, standard practice is to print several benign pages afterward to flush the memory. You can also follow this with a power down of the printer for more assurance.



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