30 Nov 2011

Some printers may be open to attacks from hackers

While many people think to always have their computer guarded with internet security and antivirus software technology, few people think to protect their printers from hackers. Researchers at Columbia University said they've discovered a new security flaw with Hewlett-Packard LaserJet printers, and maybe other printers, that could be used to steal information and even cause physical damage.

Research shows that commands could be sent to these printers to steal personal information and possibly cause self-destruction. Columbia University professor Salvatore Stolfo said embedded printer software is developing diverse functions, making this possible but keeping them poorly secured. The printers usually have no security mechanisms built into them.

"The problem is, technology companies aren't really looking into this corner of the Internet. But we are," Stolfo said in an interview with MSNBC. "The research on this is crystal clear. The impact of this is very large. These devices are completely open and available to be exploited."

Keith Moore, chief technologist for HP's printer division, told MSNBC the company is taking the issue seriously, but said until they verify the internet security issue with the printer, it's difficult to make a statement or comment on it.