Spamming printers from the Web? Researcher shows how
Discovery met with boundless enthusiasm from all quarters
IDG News Service - Aaron Weaver has made a discovery the world could probably do without: He's found a way to spam your printer from the Web.
By using a little-known capability found in most Web browsers, Weaver can make a Web page launch a print job on just about any printer on a victim's network. The Web site could print annoying ads on the printer and theoretically issue more dangerous commands, like telling the printer to send a fax, format its hard drive or download new firmware.
Weaver, a security manager in the financial industry, based in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, described what he calls "cross site printing" in a research paper published Tuesday on the Ha.ckers.org Web site.
Weaver has launched the attack successfully with both the Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers. Because the attack works only on network printers, a printer plugged directly into a PC would not be vulnerable.
The attack is possible because most browsers can connect to the networking port used by most printers to look for new print jobs. So by using the browser as a stepping stone, attackers are able to connect with something they should never be able to reach: a printer on the local area network.
While nobody had previously demonstrated this particular hack, Weaver's research is based on two concepts that are well-known to Web security researchers: cross-site scripting attacks and vulnerabilities in the way browsers handle the Internet Protocol. "There is no precedent for [this hack]," said Robert Hansen, CEO of Web security consultancy SecTheory and owner of the Ha.ckers.org Web site. "But ... what he did was marry two different concepts that we've been talking about for a long time."
And if hackers figure out a way to make printers send out information about their print jobs to the Internet, Weaver's hack could have even more profound security implications, Hansen said.
Researchers have already shown how the browser can be used as a gateway to reach mail or VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) servers. They believe that the browser, with its ability to connect the Internet at large to the local area network, will be an increasingly important source of network attacks. "There are definitely a lot more exploits to be found," Hansen said.
- Warning: Cloud Data at Risk Experts agree that relying on SaaS vendors to backup and restore your data is dangerous. Yet that's exactly what huge portions of the...
- The Opportunities and Challenges of the Cloud In this report F5 poses questions to IDC analysts, Sally Hudson and Phil Hochmuth, on behalf of F5's customers to better understand the...
- Mobile First: Securing Information Sprawl Learn how the partnership between Box and MobileIron can help you execute a "mobile first" strategy that manages and secures both mobile apps...
- The Truth About Cloud Security "Security" is the number one issue holding business leaders back from the cloud. But does the reality match the perception?
- What should I look for in a Next Generation Firewall? SANS Provides Guidance With so many vendors claiming to have a Next Generation Firewall (NGFW), it can be difficult to tell what makes each one different....
- Responding to New SSL Cybersecurity Threat The featured Gartner research examines current strategies to address new SSL cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities. All Security White Papers | Webcasts
Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!