Nov 29, 2011

How worried are you that a hacker is going to set your printer on fire?

I wasn't exactly loosing sleep wondering if printers were going to go up in flames, but apparently we've been blissfully ignorant about a security flaw that could allow some HP printers to be hijacked and used as a back door to a network, or even flood it with so many work instructions that it overheats and catches fire. There was an article about this on MSNBC that says researchers at Columbia found the vulnerability in some HP LaserJet printers. http://redtape.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/11/29/9076395-exclusive-millions... As I'm sitting at my desk staring at my, you guessed it, HP LaserJet printer, I'm wondering if we should be really worried about this, or if it is a case of media overstatement.


Well, I wasn't at all.  But now.....eh, I'm pretty much still not worried.  Not about the fire part anyway; there is an internal thermal breaker in the printers that should prevent something like a hacker rapidly cycling the printer actually causing a fire.  I am much more concerned about the issue of network vulnerability, using the printer's connection as a vehicle to infect individual PCs or worse.  However, I can't imagine many business are out there without a firewall, and if the printer is behind a firewall it seems that it should be pretty secure.  I guess that if the printer is one that accepts SD cards, it could potentially be vulnurable to malware from that front if it was already on the SD card, but that's a lot of ifs and it would require some pretty specific malware to exploint a printer vulnerability.  Plus, as was already mentioned, there is always that power off button to press at the end of the day, which removes a large percentage of the time that there could be exposure.

I'd call it media overstatement. But you never know, I guess.

I'm not worried about my HP printer since it's off most of the time. I rarely use it. So I'm not going to lose any sleep over this.

Still, I'm sure some people will get very worked up over it. Maybe they should hit the "off" button on their printer before they go to bed...just to be sure. ;)
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