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Inside TDV - The Data Vault Blog

Are Computerized Printers Doomed?

One of the most prevalent (and least well known) risks to information security in today’s business environment is the office printer. Few people understand that almost all of these modern devices possess hard drives containing the images that they’ve scanned or printed over the years, with most having no security systems installed.

So what would be the best way to raise awareness of this issue, you ask? Hacking the printer’s hardware to play the classic video game Doom of course.

doom

Noted information security researcher Michael Jordan (not to be confused with the NBA superstar) found that, like most printers today, the Canon Pixma had the advertised ability to print documents over a wireless internet connection. What was more troubling was his discovery that this connection lacked even the most basic of security protocols – a username/password combination. After finding that the processor also had the power to handle the demands of computer games from the 90’s, he decided the best way to demonstrate this vulnerability to the world would be by loading one onto the hardware of the device… and it made an impression.

“We take any potential security vulnerability very seriously.  At Canon we work hard at securing all of our products, however with diverse and ever-changing security threats we welcome input from others to ensure our customers are as well protected as possible. We intend to provide a fix as quickly as is feasible.” – Canon Printing spokesperson

While it’s reassuring that Canon is taking steps to correct the problem with their particular models, overall the implications of this vulnerability are wide ranging. A simple scan of of internet IP addresses turned up over 2,000 in London alone that had an unsecured printer accessible (from varying manufacturers), and greater numbers certainly exist on a wider scale. Video games are harmless, but with malicious intent this breach in software could be a disaster for a security conscious organization. As part of an effective records management plan, it is essential to track all the potential avenues for information to accidentally or intentionally be released into the public sphere. Even though many people are aware of the risks of paper documents being leaked, it is essential to note and consider the more unconventional routes that data may take or the ingenuity of the people looking to access it.

Here at The Data Vault, our Data Shark media shredding machine can handle hard drives such as those found within printers and make sure the information stays out of the wrong hands for good. If you have any questions about information security or data management, please feel free to head over to our contact us page and one of our experts will get in touch with you!

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