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Computer Security: Don’t print naked


If you’re interested in what’s going on at CERN, in professional projects and plans, or in private problems and parties, hanging out at one of CERN’s printers is a very effective approach (but, please… don’t!). Too many people are still printing confidential documents without caring that they might be read by third parties hanging around – see for example the image below of a document found on one of CERN’s printers a few years ago…


This shouldn’t happen. Confidential documents, documents with sensitive content, personal information and private emails should be properly protected – even when they’re converted to paper format.

The CERN printing infrastructure is capable of ensuring the confidentiality of your documents: you can send a print job in such a way that it won’t be printed until you input a PIN code at the machine. So the next time you need to print such a document, go to “Printer Properties” (1) and select the “Secure Print” output method (2). Once you hit the “Print” button, you’ll get another dialog box asking you to provide a PIN number (3). Below, you can see screenshots of the different steps on the Windows platform. Instructions for other operating systems can be found in this ServiceNow knowledge base article.


After you’ve provided a PIN, your document will be queued on the printer of your choice. For easy PIN input on the printer, we recommend you use any Canon machine. The printer will hold your document for the next 12 hours (4 hours on some models). Once you’re at the printer, hit the “SCAN/PRINT” button, choose “Secure Print” (4), select the jobs you want to print (5), hit “Print”, and punch in your PIN (6). (Note: this sequence may vary between models.)


Your document is only printed after you provide the correct PIN. And as you’re now standing beside the printer, you can be confident that your confidential document is being handled confidentially. And, even better, you can set this as your default printing preference and ensure none of your printouts go walkabout again! See these knowledge base articles for more details – including short video tutorials. In addition, you can download this poster for the corresponding awareness campaign by the Office of Data Privacy (ODP) and pin it up (close to) your printer(s).

So, don’t let confidential information leak… use the “secure print” function on your nearest preferred printer. And: respect the environment. Don’t print unless necessary. Confidential documents that are never printed are less likely to slip out of your control!


Do you want to learn more about computer security incidents and issues at CERN? Follow our Monthly Report. For further information, questions or help, check our website or contact us at Computer.Security@cern.ch.



More information on data privacy at CERN can be found on the ODP website or obtained from your Departmental Data Privacy Coordinator.