Printer Security Hacks


These days, printers are everywhere—at home, at work, even on the space station. And like most of our electronic devices these days, most printers are connected to the internet in some form or fashion.

Your printer might seem like a humble, harmless tool. But in reality, it’s just as vulnerable to cybercrime as any of your other net-connected tools.

Here are 4 ways your printer can get hacked:

Printers Disclose Personal Information
Many printers, especially larger enterprise-level devices, have some form of internal memory. Consider all the personal information that you’ve printed at home or at the office – financial statements, confidential reports, personal transactions. Depending on the printer you use, this information may still be stored in the printer’s internal memory. To a dedicated and patient hacker – this information is tough to retrieve, but not impossible.

Denial of Service Attack
Grabbing information off of a network printer’s internal memory is tough, but initiating a denial-of-service (DoS) attack is relatively easy. Simply put, once a DoS attack is initiated your printer will deny you service and won’t let you print anything.

All a hacker has to do is to drop a single line of code onto the printer driver, which in essence the “brain” of a computer. This line of code will throw the printer into an infinite loop, rendering it useless.

Vandalizing Subsequent Print Jobs
Once a hacker is able to access the printer driver, another way that they can inflict damage is by manipulating print jobs.

Once again, a simple line of code can be inserted into the print instructions so that a change made with to print job could be made permanent for all subsequent prints. They could insert an undesired image into every print job, add additional text, or even introduce permanent misspellings of any particular word(s).

Bypassing Password-Protected Printers
One of the most basic (but necessary) security tools on a network printer is password protection. As has been made clear through the hacking of other network devices (phones, computers, etc), passwords can at best be a speed bump to a dedicated hacker who has the tools to crack them.

Once they do, single line of Printer Job Language (PJL) code can reset the network printer to its factory settings, thereby removing the password that you or your network administrator had in place. It’s then exceedingly simple for the hacker to then set their own password, effectively blocking your access to the printer(s).

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