A computer hacker has temporarily hijacked more than 150,000 printers and made them print out a warning message.
(CCM) — Thousands of printer owners have woken up to discover a warning message from a benevolent hacker printed out on their printers, according to a BBC report. This follows publication of a German report which found that many printers that are connected to the internet have vulnerabilities which enable hackers to take control of them remotely. The warning message, sent by a hacker going by the name of "Stackoverflowin," tells owners to close the port that allows the printer to be hijacked. Over 150,000 devices have been affected, made by a variety of manufacturers including HP, Brother, Epson, Canon, Lexmark, and Minolta, according to the BBC. These include large office printers, home devices, and small receipt printers used in restaurants and cafes.
Stackoverflowin appears to have carried out the attack by running an automated program which scanned the internet looking for vulnerable printers, and then making these printers produce the warning note. Early versions of the program also printed out pictures of robots. Although the attack was harmless, owners would be wise to heed the warning. This is because computer researchers in Germany have found ways to connect to vulnerable printers and put them into an endless loop so that they can never be used by their owners, and also used them as entry points into large corporate networks, making servers and other computers vulnerable to attack.
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