Black hat hacker used printers to distribute anti-Semitic flyers

Tuesday, 18 October, 2016 In Editorial, Featured News, Top News


A black hat hacker has been able to take control of 29,000 printers, showing the ease with which such devices can be exploited. The hacker hijacked the printers in US college campuses and used the devices to remotely print out multiple copies of anti-Semitic flyers.

Known as Hacker Weev, the attacker was able to exploit a vulnerability in certain online printers using a single line of Bash script code. Describing the attack between 24 and 25 March this year, the hacker said he wanted to see how easy it was to hijack printers connected to the open internet.

He said in a blog post that he had scanned the internet for unprotected printers connected to the web.  “The Internet of Things will prove a most glorious contribution to comedy,” the attacker wrote, via posts on Reddit and Twitter.

It is not the first time Hacker Weev has perpetrated a major cyber security incident. The attacker was arrested in 2010 for stealing 114,000 email addresses from iPads connected to mobile operator AT&T after compromising its public servers.

Responding to the latest incident, the US universities involved said they had investigated the breach and urged students and campus workers to destroy the flyers if found.

As this incident demonstrates, printers are at growing risk from malicious hackers. In order to minimise the chance of becoming a victim of this type of hack, Cyber News Group urges businesses to ensure networks are properly secured.

As part of this, it is advisable that printers are not connected to any unsecured network that would enable attackers to gain access to valuable company data. Meanwhile, IT departments should make sure they are applying firmware updates. It may also be necessary to replace equipment running out of date and unprotected operating systems such as Windows XP.

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