Researchers from Columbia University have completed a study of printers, and have concluded that many devices can be hacked and used to steal information from users. In some cases, it might even be possible to remotely ‘overload’ the printer and cause it to catch fire.
The precise nature of the potential attacks varies from printer to printer, and not all devices are affected. But with printers increasingly being linked to both private networks and the internet, any security flaw could be exploited to gain access to systems that would normally be considered secure.
There is a lot of attention paid to computer security, but printers have been almost ignored, despite the fact that many are now so sophisticated that they are effectively mini-computers in their own right. No modern anti-virus software currently scans printers, and researchers say this is a massive open target for hackers.