Five Advantages of RFID for Secure Printing

Most organizations are opting for some form of print management today—and it's easy to understand why.
Published: May 19, 2019

Print management helps companies control costs, protect confidential information and share expenses fairly between departments. But what’s the best identity-authentication solution?

Personal identification number (PIN)- or password-based systems are the default and are the most commonly used solution across the industry. But radio frequency identification (RFID) provides significant advantages in security, speed, simplicity, savings and user satisfaction. Here’s why more companies are moving to RFID for their print-management needs.

Passwords and PINs can be easily compromised when users share them with colleagues, or if a bad actor watches over someone’s shoulder to steal their information. PINs can also be easily mis-keyed, releasing the wrong job to the wrong person. Whether accidental or intentional, if the job released includes confidential information—say, HR records or company financial data—security is compromised. RFID cards, which are typically assigned as employee IDs and door-access cards, are less likely to be shared between employees and cannot be easily duplicated or hacked. Card readers can be configured to read different outputs (e.g., binary, decimal and hexadecimal), adding complexity that makes it nearly impossible for the information on the card to be copied or stolen.

The user interfaces on printers are not designed for easy entry of complex information. Frequent mis-keys slow employees down and result in queues at the printer during busy times of the day. Usernames and passwords offer superior security compared to PINs but take much more time to enter—especially if employees must toggle between keyboards for lowercase and capital letters, numbers and special characters. While the time may seem insignificant, it can add up to a surprisingly large frustration for employees with frequent print jobs. RFID readers improve productivity and speed up lines at the printer—employees can simply scan their cards, pick up their jobs and leave.

RFID readers take advantage of technology that companies are already using. Employees can use the ID cards they already carry to get into the building to pick up their print jobs. (If ID cards are not already RFID-based, a special RFID sticker can be added to them.) Since workers typically always have their ID cards on their person, there is nothing additional to carry and no new PINs or passwords to remember. What’s more, RFID cards are easy to use, with virtually no training required—employees can just wave their card in front of the reader.

The number-one job for most IT departments is changing passwords and unlocking accounts. It’s no wonder—29 percent of employees in the United States enter more than 11 passwords a day! As we make password criteria more complicated and prompt personnel to change passwords more frequently, it’s easy to understand why workers are often locked out of their accounts. RFID cards eliminate time that IT teams would otherwise spend troubleshooting for staff members locked out of their print job, which translates into measurable savings in IT time and expenses. Employees can also easily self-register their cards for print management, further reducing IT time for setup and ongoing support. Since the readers can use workers’ existing ID cards, there is no additional expense in producing and distributing new cards.

Image: Shutterstock

Time-savings and simplicity translate into higher satisfaction for end users. Users don’t need to carry a second card, remember a new PIN, fumble around with a tiny user interface to enter a username and password, or call IT to have their PINs reset. The RFID reader just works, every time.

These advantages add up to real and measurable benefits for companies that move from PIN or password entry to RFID readers for print management and other applications.

John Villegas is responsible for ELATEC USA‘s business development for the secure printing market. John and his team of account managers and applications specialists provide consultation and support to printer OEMs, integrators and dealers. ELATEC is a provider of identity-authentication and extended access-control solutions for print management and numerous other applications. For more information, contact John Villegas at 772-210-2263 or