Hacking a printer seems pointless when you first hear about it. Why would anyone want to print pages from your printer? It doesn’t make any sense. It makes way more sense to hack your devices to steal cryptocurrencies, money, or confidential info and sell it for a lot of money on the black market.
But printers aren’t as harmless as you might think. Sure, a hacker can print a few pages and write a threatening or worrying message, but you’d probably be more worried about the ink. If that’s the only thing they can do, you shouldn’t worry as much. Still, you should protect the device immediately.
Bigger problems happen when attackers go one step ahead and try to attack your network, steal data, create zombie bots, or initiate ransomware attacks.
Why Do Printers Get Hacked?
Hackers are always looking for the weakest link when trying to attack you. People usually protect their computers and phones and install antivirus programs and VPNs. But no one worries about printers. In reality, anything connected to the internet can be a backdoor to your main devices, which comes out to all of your smart devices. Several organizations have carried out benevolent hacks to raise awareness about this problem, yet not much has changed.
Cybernews breached 28 000 printers to prove this point. TheHackerGiraffe raised the bar with 50 000 trying to get people to subscribe to PewDiePie, a famous YouTuber. However, Stackoverflowin is still number one, with more than 150 000 printers breached.
If somebody gains access to a device in your network, they can look through your stored data and abuse it. Ransomware attacks are pretty standard if you’re a big organization dealing with sensitive information. Imagine an entire company being held hostage by a printer!
Denial-of-service attacks are incredibly common, where a group of hackers take control of thousands or millions of devices and turn them into zombies that listen to their commands. Cybercriminals create botnets where these devices will listen to their masters and shut down webpages, servers, and networks, making it impossible for users to interact with them. One of the newest trends is to install software that mines cryptocurrencies, take the profits, and leaves users with massive electricity bills.
How Do They Get Hacked?
The simplest way to exploit a device is through hardware. Plug in a USB with malware, and voila, you’ve got control over the device. Depending on the malware, you can take control of all the devices connected to the same network. But that’s old-fashioned and inconvenient. Now, cybercriminals have shifted to the virtual world.
Wi-Fi is the biggest culprit because they can find hundreds of thousands of unprotected devices on IoT search engines. According to Cybernews, nearly a million devices are vulnerable to attacks, and even untrained cybercriminals can infiltrate them.
When they were performing their attack on 28 000 devices, they started with a sample of 50 000. Based on the device manufacturers, locations, and protocols, they created a script that breached 56% of the sample. Most managers and company owners won’t go crazy to secure every printer worldwide. But spreading awareness about the problem is definitely doing good for the world. It seems funny that somebody who can print a page on your printer can also cause a massive disaster and steal your sensitive data.
Protecting Your Devices
When it comes to printers, only some people will actually go out of their way to update firmware and keep everything up to date. People postpone their phone and operating system updates for months, but they’ll do it for printers? Probably not.
If you’re one of the people who always install an update when it pops up, then congratulations. That’s one of the best ways to keep everything secure. If not, it’s probably better to switch from a wireless printer to a cable. A hardware connection ensures that the device will be as safe as your laptop or desktop computer, which makes it encrypted.
Finally, if you don’t want to waste your time with cables and want to keep avoiding updates, a USA VPN will be the best option. The only thing you’d need to do is click a button, and all of the security measures will be in place. VPNs encrypt your connection and mask your IP address, making it impossible for hackers to perform a breach. VPNs mask the data of all of the devices connected to them. Depending on the type of person you are, you can pick one of these solutions and not worry about getting hacked.
A Few Final Words
Lowering the chance of a cyberattack needs to start from the bottom up. Everyone knows that when you want to get something, you need to go to the weakest link. No one knows that better than cyber criminals. Make sure you regularly keep up with the best cybersecurity practices to be on the safe side.