Easy targets for hackers: Printers, copiers, scanners

By Stephen C. Webster
Friday, August 5, 2011 12:13 EDT
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Office printers, copiers and scanners equipped with rudimentary web server software by their manufacturers are easy targets for hackers, according to information released by a security firm attending this year’s Black Hat Technical Security Conference in Las Vegas.

For years now, electronics makers have been installing basic web server software on their devices to make them easy to service remotely, but with thousands of devices that never had their default passwords changed comes a dire threat to information security.

The threat is especially pronounced with networked printers, copiers and scanners which store images of documents they recently interacted with, making them a potential treasure trove for malicious geeks.

That flaw was pointed out during this year’s Black Hat conference by the security firm Zscaler, which was able to pinpoint hundreds of thousands of easily hacked machines currently online with just a few simple searches, according to USA Today.

The trick, according to Michael Sutton, Zscaler’s VP of research, is to make sure all unused features built-in to such devices are turned off and default passwords are changed.

Letting Internet-connected machines stay on default settings is like leaving an open door to hackers, not unlike setting up a wireless network and failing to protect it with a password.

Image credit: Flickr commons.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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