Security flaw in millions of printers can open door to hackers

WHAT: Columbia University researchers say they discovered a security flaw that is so fundamental that it may impact tens of millions of printers and other computer hardware that use built-in “embedded” firmware programs.

HOW: Many printers support automatic online “remote firmware updates.” Every time the printer accepts a job, it checks to see if a software update is included — but it typically doesn’t require a digital ID to verify the upgrade’s authenticity.

WHY IT’S OUTRAGEOUS: Hackers halfway across the world could hijack a printer and take control of an entire corporate network, obtaining easy access to confidential data for identity theft. The printer could even be set afire by repeated overheating.

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