3 hilarious (but scary) printer security stories from the internet [Native]

printer security stories

Printers might seem like innocuous little office gadgets that do one job and one job alone, but they’ve become more vulnerable thanks to the internet.

While human beings’ reliance on the web expands, so does the ability for baddies to crack their security protocols.

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With that in mind, here are three previous moments in history that printers were the victims of rather comical, if not potentially catastrophic, security stories.


In February 2017, a hacker using the alias Stackoverflowin took control of over 150 000 printers across the globe to probe a point. And to distribute memes.

Although his intentions weren’t malicious in nature, it did throw a few people into a mild panic as their printers spat out lines of comic strips.

According to the BleepingComputer, the hacker ran a self-written script which searched for open printer ports. Once the relevant ports were found, the script sent a bogus test page to the printers.

The exploit affected a slew of printer brands, a number of different printer models, and yeah, even your friendly neighbourhood corner shop receipt printer.

My receipt printer at work randomly sent this robot from mildlyinteresting

Ultimately, it exposed just how many unsecured devices there are roaming the internet.

‘Funtenna’ hack turns printers into radios

Practically any device with an embedded system, and a power supply, can be transformed into a covert radio. This at least according to researchers Michael Ossmann and Ang Cui’s experimentation.

Cui, with a suggestion from Ossmann, used a line of code transferred onto a laser printer’s internal computer to effectively transform it into a radio.

How exactly?

By rapidly flicking the device’s power loads to its internal circuitry, pins and ports, Cui was able to create a “modulated radio signal as a result of the magnetic fields created by the voltage and resulting electromagnetic waves,” an Ars Technica piece notes.

That signal could then be detected by outside sources.

While little Timmy or Jane probably couldn’t pull off a trick like this, it does demonstrate that as the Internet of Things devices expand their footprint in homes across the world, embedded security systems will become a bigger focus.

‘Doomed’ printers are fun for some

We’ve seen the classic shooter game Doom run on just about every smart device out there. And yes, printers are no exception.

Hacker Michael Jordon decided that playing the game on a large PC screen just wasn’t fun anymore, and hacked his printer’s interface screen to run it instead.

Using his printer’s web interface to remotely hijack the device’s firmware and install his own, he was able to load the game, run around, and shoot demons all from the comfort of his printer’s status screen.

While that’s admittedly quite smirk-inducing, there’s a glaring security risk exposed here.

Jordon notes that by using printers’ unsecured web interface, an attacker can theoretically “update anyone’s printer with a Trojan image which spies on the documents being printed or is used as a gateway into their network.”

Perhaps if the attacker’s nice enough, they’ll load Doom instead.

This article is brought to you by HP.

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