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Saturday, July 7, 2018

3 Ways Your Printer Threatens Your Security


Wazzup Pilipinas!

What comes to mind when you start thinking about internet security? If you’re like some people, your printer might be last on your list. However, your printer can disclose more private information than you might think possible.

Our friends at internet privacy giant ExpressVPN have created an extensive guide on printer security that reminds us to include our printers as part of our security strategy.

Your printer logs everything 

Although the number of logs kept by a printer can vary by model and manufacturer, every printer records at least some information. In addition to simple time and date stamps that identify print jobs and system events, some printers go so far as to keep copies of everything they print. When someone accesses this information, your life could get complicated.

Printers that are connected to external print servers pose an additional security threat. These servers are computers that manage print jobs sent to a printer and store an entirely separate set of logs and stored documents.

Even 3D printers are at risk. For starters, they store logs that are similar to ordinary printers. Also, while they may not store physical outputs, a study by the University of California at Irvine revealed that hackers can use the sounds emitted by a 3D printer to replicate its output.

To counter these threats, check the logs your printer stores and consult the manufacturer and online security resources to find ways to keep your printer from spying on you.



Every printed document has hidden watermarks 

Whenever you print, you create a forensic trail that leads back to your printer. Unless you take precautions, this means that someone can hold you personally responsible for what you print. This reality became public knowledge years ago during some high-profile money-counterfeiting cases.

If you think this could never affect your life, you could be wrong. The FBI analyzed printer steganography, the science printers use to encode data in ordinary printouts, to investigate leaked data from the NSA. As a result, the contractor responsible for the leaks was arrested.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation warned about the threat printers pose to security and, as early as 2005, exposed how various government agencies exploit those threats as part of routine investigations.
Documents will always be tied to the printer that produced them. So, consider buying a second-hand printer so that authorities will have difficulty identifying you as its owner.

Printers and Bitcoin do not mix 

Cryptocurrencies and the wallets that store them have created new online security threats that everyone should take seriously. Although most of those threats involve computers and networks, they also involve printers, especially if you print backup encryption keys recovery codes.

Even if you never trade with Bitcoin and other currencies, this type of exploit may still affect you. Many two-factor-authentication (2FA) systems also provide emergency backup codes. As the threat of printer malware becomes more prevalent, some analysts believe that hackers and investigators will have the ability to intelligently scan print jobs for sensitive information.

Counter this threat by recording your backup codes by hand, to eliminate the threat of a compromised printer.


In summary, your printer can tell on you. After learning about the above threats, you can expect more to emerge, especially as internet-connected printers become ubiquitous. In response, stay informed and vigilant. Don’t let your printer be the weak link of your security strategy.


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