HP Printers in Malware Circulation Revealed

According to a recent revelation by Intrusion Detection Systems Lab at Columbia University, a considerable vulnerability has been detected in the networked Hewlett-Packard (HP) printers. This printer facilitates a remote system infiltrate print jobs and remotely penetrate malware into the firmware of the printer taking control of the machine, reports betanews on November 30, 2011.

The researchers assert that the HP Laser Jets do not validate a digital signature or verify the updates for authenticity. As a result, the remote attacker is at a better chance to gain access to the network of the attacked company through malware-filled print job to the Web-connected printer.

The security exploit starts functioning the moment a specific document is sent to the printer. In case, of the document requiring a specific malware code, it would be required for it to reinstall the printer's firmware, by which the hacker is provided an easy access.

Once the printer is under the mayhem, the hacker automatically obtains an access to all the information being sent, and is at advantage to even contrive personal details. As a result of this attack, even the personal identity of the victimized is at crisis, and the hackers are facilitated towards controlling the inner workings of the printer.

The LaserJets is empowered with a thermal breaker enabling it with the advantage of preventing the fuser from overheating and catching fire. However, assumption related to the chances for devices catching fire due to a change in firmware holds no significance, as reported by HP in a statement on November 29, 2011.

According to Ken Phelan, CTO of Gotham Technology Partners, which is a Montvale, New Jersey-based solution provider, most of the security issues related to printer till date only include spam. Nonetheless, he also claimed that the utilities of these manufacturing firms are required to be aware of the potential of these systems that can be significantly damaged in attacks, as per the news in CRN on November 29, 2011.

However, HP claimed that this vulnerability is associated with the earlier models of the printers, while the new and updated versions possess a superior security level and thus do away much easily with the hackers.

Nonetheless, HP had also informed about the safety flaws associated with the printer prior to the announcement made by the Columbia researchers.

Related article: Heavy Spamming of PDF malware in October

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