According to the http://shine.yahoo.com/at-home/strange-security-hackers-could-set-printer-fire-distance-235900935.html website, a study completed at Columbia University indicated that hackers could remotely send code to a printer that potentially could cause it to catch fire. The study specifically reviewed HP printers that were made prior to 2009, as 2009 and newer printers from HP require a digital signature to verify the code prior to being implemented into the system. The study completed used reverse-engineered software that caused the fuser to overheat and brown a piece of paper, which potentially could burn the paper in the printer and start a fire.
Another website, http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/11/29/hackers-can-set-your-hp-printer-on-fire-researchers-demonstrate/, reports that HP denies that the printer could actually start a fire, as a thermal breaker would prevent this from occurring. No amount of software engineering firmware would be able to defeat this safety feature, as per HP’s rebuttal of the study.
The study was able to point out that hackers can do almost anything, given time, a little bit of information, and a vulnerable system. This is yet another reason to make sure that you update all items that are accessible on a network, as firmware updates provided by manufactures contain security updates that close holes which could potentially be exploited.
So, the take-away is to be sure that you update any device that has not been updated recently. Do you need help updating or reviewing your devices to be sure they are updated? Contact us to discuss available Philadelphia IT Health Check Solutions that we offer. We can also go over our Philadelphia Area Managed IT Services Program to be sure continued updates are applied to all of your systems and you are fully protected.