Cybersecurity consultants at CyberNews hijacked near 28,000 unsecured printers worldwide and compelled them to print out a information on printer safety

Unique publish: https://cybernews.com/safety/we-hacked-28000-unsecured-printers-to-raise-awareness-of-printer-security-issues/

Most of us already know the significance of utilizing antivirus, anti-malware, and VPNs to safe our computer systems, telephones, and different units towards potential assaults. Printers? Not a lot. We at CyberNews wished to point out customers the significance of defending printers from turning into simple prey for cybercriminals, so we determined to convey the message dwelling.

In an effort to assist as many individuals as potential safe their units towards potential cyberattacks, the CyberNews safety group accessed 27,944 printers world wide and compelled the hijacked units to print out a brief 5-step information on find out how to safe a printer, with a hyperlink to a extra detailed model of the information on our web site.

About this experiment

To carry out the experiment, we used Web of Issues (IoT) search engines like google to seek for open units that utilized widespread printer ports and protocols. After filtering out a lot of the false positives, we had been left with greater than 800,000 printers that had community printing options enabled and had been accessible over the web.

Whereas this doesn’t imply that every one 800,000 of those printers had been essentially weak to cyberattacks, our estimates have proven that we might efficiently goal roughly 500,000 of those units.

After choosing a pattern of 50,000 open printers and making a customized printing script, we managed to print out PDF paperwork on 27,944 unprotected units.

How we did it

Earlier than performing the assaults, our preliminary step was to assemble the whole variety of obtainable targets. To learn the way many printers had been on the menu for our experiment, we looked for IP addresses with open ports on specialised IoT search engines like google, equivalent to Shodan and Censys. Whereas performing the search, we made positive that the open units we discovered had been precise printers, versus unrelated providers that merely used these ports for different functions.

Out of 800,000+ obtainable printers, we chosen a pattern of 50,000 units that we’d attempt to entry and power to print our information on printer safety.

Our choice was primarily based on:

  • System location (to cowl all the globe)
  • System producer
  • Protocols used to entry the printers

We then created our personal customized script that was particularly designed to solely goal the printing course of, with out getting access to some other options or information saved on the printers.

Experts hacked 28 K unsecured printers to raise awareness about their security

As quickly as we launched the script, it started hijacking the printing processes in unsecured units and compelled them to print out the printer safety information.

Experts hacked 28 K unsecured printers to raise awareness about their security

The outcomes

In the long run, we managed to hijack 27,944 printers out of the 50,000 units that we focused, which quantities to a 56% success charge. Taking this share under consideration, we are able to presume that out of 800,000 internet-connected printers the world over, a minimum of 447,000 are unsecured.

These numbers converse volumes in regards to the basic lack of safety of networked units worldwide.

Instance of obtainable open printers on a single IoT search engine (Shodan.io):

Experts hacked 28 K unsecured printers to raise awareness about their security

As we are able to see, many customers and organizations nonetheless use internet-connected units with out serious about safety, putting in firmware updates, or bearing in mind the implications of leaving their units publicly accessible. Which signifies that the standard printer stays one of many weakest hyperlinks within the safety of each organizational and residential networks.

Whereas safety consultants have been conscious of printer vulnerabilities for fairly some time, even earlier large-scale assaults on printers just like the Stackoverflowin hack in 2017 and the PewDiePie hack in 2018 didn’t appear to shock the general public into securing their networked units.

Despite the fact that securing each printer on the planet may look like a pipe dream, this doesn’t imply that establishments and safety consultants ought to cease elevating consciousness about printer safety and implementing stricter cybersecurity insurance policies throughout organizations. In any other case, the world is likely to be only one huge cyberattack away from potential catastrophe.

Why printer safety is necessary

Whereas we had been intentionally cautious to solely goal the printing processes of the unsecured printers through the experiment, IoT hijacking assaults – when carried out by unhealthy actors with out moral limitations – may cause critical injury to organizations and people who neglect printer safety.

From authorized companies to banks to authorities departments, workplace printers are utilized by organizations of all sorts and sizes to print delicate, confidential, and categorised information. Not solely that, these printers may retailer copies of that information of their reminiscence. Evidently, attackers can simply exfiltrate this information by accessing unsecured workplace printers and use it for blackmail or company espionage, or just promote it on the black markets of the darkish internet.

Dangerous actors may take over unsecured printers and incorporate them into botnets as a way to carry out DDoS assaults, ship spam, and extra. What’s extra, cybercriminals can use internet-connected printers to achieve an preliminary foothold into the native or company networks and discover extra methods to trigger extra injury to the unsuspecting victims. Or they’ll merely use these printers to mine cryptocurrency, ramping up their victims’ electrical energy payments within the course of.

Securing your printer

Our experiment has proven that printer safety stays a critical concern for people and organizations the world over. With that mentioned, a lot of the printers we managed to hijack might have been simply secured by following widespread safety finest practices and some easy steps.

To cite the safety information we printed on tens of 1000’s of unsecured printers, “right here’s how”:

1. Safe your printing ports and restrict your printer’s wi-fi connections to your router. Configure your community settings in order that your printer solely solutions instructions that come through specified ports in your community router. The usual protocol for safe printing on new printers is IPPS protocol through SSL port 443.

2. Use a firewall. This can shield unused protocols that may enable cybercriminals to remotely entry your printer from outdoors the community.

3. Replace your printer firmware to the most recent model. Printer producers repeatedly repair recognized vulnerabilities within the firmware for the units they produce, so be sure your printer all the time stays up-to-date security-wise.

4. Change the default password. Most printers have default administrator usernames and passwords. Change it to a powerful, distinctive password within the utility settings of your printer and ensure print capabilities require go surfing credentials.

For extra detailed info on printer safety, learn our information on securing your printer towards cyberattacks right here.

Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, printers)

 


 

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