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SEH Technology primos review

The primos provides valuable AirPrint access controls and print auditing at a price small businesses can afford

IT Pro Recommended
Price
£210
  • Swift installation; Strong security controls; Affordable
  • Configuration can be tricky with some printers

Designed for hassle-free printing from macOS and iOS devices, Apple's AirPrint is great for those that want to print on a whim. A major drawback for businesses though, is its lack of access security as once enabled on a compliant printer, anyone on the same network can use it.

The primos from SEH Technology looks like a great security solution for SMB,s as this little slab of black plastic takes over AirPrint duties, enforces access permissions, encrypts communications and logs print jobs. It discovers AirPrint-enabled printers on your network, creates new print queues for them and can apply local or Active Directory (AD) authentication.

The primos is simple to set up; we plugged it into the lab's network and used the SEH Windows app to discover it. Double-clicking on the device entry took us straight to its Control Center web interface and after logging in, we were presented with a quick start printer discovery wizard.

For testing, we used Epson WorkForce Pro WF-4720 inkjet and Brother MFC-L8900CDW laser AirPrint-enabled colour MFPs. To highlight the AirPrint security issues, on both these printers we could enable and disable the service but neither offer any access controls.

Discovery only took a few seconds, where the primos spotted both printers and created separate job queues for them. For easier identification, the primos takes the printer's AirPrint name and prepends it with a global identifier which can be customised to suit.

There is one more task you must carry out to lock down security which, surprisingly, isn't mentioned in the primos user manual. Once your queues are configured, you must disable the printer's AirPrint service, otherwise users can simply sidestep the primos and go direct to the printer.

And this is where the fun starts, as each printer vendor has different methods of handling AirPrint. On our Brother printer, we simply disabled AirPrint from the web interface but kept the mDNS service enabled to allow Bonjour to continue running.

Epson proved more problematic as you can disable AirPrint by turning off its Bonjour service but this will stop the primos seeing it. Bizarrely, the only way to achieve this was to turn off the 'Paper Setup Auto Display' option at the printer's LCD panel which disabled AirPrint, left Bonjour running but stopped the primos displaying the printer's consumables status.

We also suggest you stop users installing iOS apps that provide direct network access to the printer as these will circumvent the primos. For our test printers, this meant blocking Brother's iPrint&Scan and Epson's iPrint apps.

The primos defaults to allowing unfettered access to its AirPrint print queues and we found it easy to lock this down. For local authentication, you create users and groups on the primos, add them to the respective print queue and decide whether to allow or deny access.

When we accessed the AirPrint queue from our iPad, the device showed a padlock symbol next to it and requested a username and password which our users only had to enter once. For more centralized management, the primos can link up with AD and LDAP servers.

Another issue with Bonjour is it isn't designed to be routed across different networks so users on one subnet can't see AirPrint devices on another. The primos solves this with its Wide-Area AirPrint feature and to use it, you reconfigure your DNS server, create a new subdomain and add it to your iOS devices as a Wi-Fi search domain.

Access security is a major problem for AirPrint users and Apple had done little to remedy it. There are some third-party solutions available such as Xerox' AltaLink printers and Canon's uniFlow software, but these are aimed at enterprises and far too expensive for SMBs.

Although we had some issues with our Epson printer, the primos offers valuable access controls for AirPrint use in SMBs. It's easy to install, will work with any AirPrint-enabled printer and costing only 210, is a snip.

Verdict

Although we had some issues with our Epson printer, the primos offers valuable access controls for AirPrint use in SMBs. It's easy to install, will work with any AirPrint-enabled printer and costing only £210, is a snip.

Desktop unit
10/100 Ethernet
USB 2 (future use)
External PSU, SEH primos Windows app
Web browser management
108 x 108 x 33mm (WDH)
5 year hardware warranty

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