Are Your Printers Getting Hacked?

Are your printers safe?

Although many people would not even consider asking this question, printer safety is a critical security issue. The steady increase in complexity of hackers including other cyber-criminals has in fact affected some of the popular printer brands that you normally find in a network. A recent study has left many wondering how possible it is that more than 20 popular printer models have been declared vulnerable to Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) and other cyber-attacks. It is for this reason that we should study and understand how we are exposed and the best way to guard a printer device connected to a network.

Which are the vulnerable models?

Research done by Ruhr University on a list of brands shows that printers such as Dell, hp, Samsung, Brother and several others are prone to different cyber-attacks. A significant number of systems have been compromised by hackers and other cyber criminals who have discovered that printers provide pathways to steal user credentials. There are also cases of leaked sensitive data reflected on the printed documents which are obtained from the printer memory, and worse still, corrupting the printer.

Many of us know that printers are basically present in work areas to turn soft copy into printed hard copy. A smaller fraction who have encountered the issues before know that indeed this can be a typical entry point for unscrupulous cyber-minds. Get this picture: business establishments, Government and corporate offices, non-profit organizations, and homes are linked together in a network. Once you understand how these connections run, it should be clear to you how the thieves hack, steal and destroy data through an exposed printer.

How attacks can be made

Security experts have done a study that has identified vulnerabilities that make it possible for criminals to corrupt common printer languages such as PostScript and PJL. This is done to launch DDoS attacks or enable Protection Bypass where an affected printer is reset to its factory settings to expose it. Print job manipulation is also done by hackers to encourage persistent distortions, information disclosure including leaking private and confidential material.

How to protect printers

Printer Exploitation Toolkit (PRET)is a program crafted with the main purpose of determining whether or not a printing device is likely to be the hacker’s target. It works by connecting to a printer via USB or network and then it runs an assessment on the different features of specific printer language. The result of these attacks is finally documented on a wiki page. It is important to note that most brands have not been tested for vulnerability and this is a reason why PRET – an open-source toolkit – is available for us to identify the various loopholes that exist within a given brand.

As we get deeper into this information and networking age, it is critical for us to know that cyber criminals will continue to attack through more sophisticated channels. It may be early to tell whether these crooks will pose a serious threat in future. But whatever the case, the safest and affordable approach is ensuring that relevant security protocol is practiced. Contact us today for expert services on ways to counter the various security threats.