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Researchers Hijack 28,000 Printers to Show How Easily They Can Be Hacked

Researchers have once again demonstrated that many printers can be hacked remotely, by hijacking 28,000 devices and instructing them to print out a printer security guide.

Researchers have once again demonstrated that many printers can be hacked remotely, by hijacking 28,000 devices and instructing them to print out a printer security guide.

The research was conducted by security experts at CyberNews, who claim to have identified more than 800,000 printers that were accessible over the internet and had network printing features enabled.

They then selected a sample of 50,000 exposed printers and sent them a script that instructed the devices to print the security guide. The researchers said the document was printed by nearly 28,000 of those devices, which suggests that 56% of exposed printers can be hijacked. This translates to roughly 447,000 printers of the total number of 800,000 exposed devices.

Security guide printed on hijacked printer

“To find out how many printers were on the menu for our experiment, we searched for IP addresses with open ports on specialized IoT search engines, such as Shodan and Censys. While performing the search, we made sure that the open devices we found were actual printers, as opposed to unrelated services that simply used those ports for other purposes,” they explained.

CyberNews told SecurityWeek that the experiment did not involve exploitation of any known or unknown vulnerabilities; the researchers abused the fact that the devices were not configured with security in mind.

Researchers have been finding potentially serious printer vulnerabilities that can be exploited for various purposes, including to crash devices and obtain sensitive information. However, experts demonstrated in the past that many printers can be hacked and abused due to insecure configurations.

And this is not the first time someone has demonstrated that printers can be remotely instructed to print arbitrary content. Back in 2016, a researcher hijacked thousands of printers and caused them to print anti-Semitic flyers. This is just one of several examples.

Related: Ransomware Operators Claim They Hacked Printing Giant Xerox

Related: Thousands of 3D Printers Exposed to Remote Attacks

Related: Code Execution Flaw Found in HP Enterprise Printers

Related: HP Launches Bug Bounty Program for Printers

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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