Are your printers safe?
In the US a hacker has been able to take control of 29,000 printers, showing the ease with which a printer can be exploited. The hacker hijacked the printers in US college campuses and used the devices to remotely print out multiple copies of anti-Semitic flyers.
Unusually the hacker has taken the trouble to brag about these exploits and so the tech community can help everyone else to be more secure, so erm.. “thank you” hacker.
Describing the attack between 24 and 25 March this year, the hacker said he wanted to see how easy it was to hijack printers connected to the open internet.
He said in a blog post that he had scanned the internet for unprotected printers connected to the web. .
As this incident demonstrates, printers are at growing risk from malicious hackers.
What Can you do?
In order to minimise the chance of becoming a victim of this type of hack, Clickingmad urges businesses to ensure networks are properly secured.
As part of this, it is advisable that printers are not connected to any unsecured network that would enable attackers to gain access to valuable company data.
All devices that are connected to your internal networks and the Internet need to be behind firewalls. We recommend using hardware firewalls and of course having an internal policy to keep their firmware (the software that runs the device) updated.
Meanwhile, IT departments should make sure they are applying firmware updates. It may also be necessary to replace equipment running out of date and unprotected operating systems such as Windows XP.
Here is a good article on the BBC not about printers specifically but does indicate the vulnerabilities that exist on most networks. Click here to read it in another window.
We all have to take precautions so as not to lose valuable business data and the printer has become a problem when they started to be connected to networks using Wi-Fi or have been given access to the Internet for remote printing.
Take a look at your printers connections now.