While it may seem like everyone on the internet is out to get you, not all of them are pursuing malicious results. Not all heroes wear capes, and in the case of “white-hat” hackers they will often accomplish their goals in the same way as their more malicious “black-hat” counterparts: by exploiting security loopholes and flaws. Most recently, over 150k printers from various manufacturers including HP, Canon and Epson were hacked. Instead of being leveraged to damage their surrounding network, the hacked devices printed out various messages warning the owners that the printers had been hacked, but did not provide any hints as how to plug the holes.
Is my printer at risk?
It looks like many models and brands may be affected by this particular weakness, but only if they are directly exposed to the internet or not properly firewalled. If you’ve been paying attention at all to any tech news, let alone this blog, even the most technically-challenged among you know that connecting to the internet without a firewall is the equivalent of walking around with a bright-red target on your back. At the moment, the only fix available now is to put the printers behind a firewall and change the default admin password (if one even exists), but this only prevents someone from attacking them from the internet – they are still vulnerable inside your network. Another valuable take-away is this: if it’s connected to a data network and it was made by humans, it’s vulnerable to being hacked. Unless you plan on never connecting to the internet again (a strategy viable for very few people), your plan should be to make sure your security measures are robust and your backups reliable. If you remember that there is no such thing as a perfectly secure network, you will make better decisions on all your technology-related endeavors.