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Thousands of printers hacked across the globe after critical flaw exposed

Hot on the heels of the printer hacks across three US university campuses, which saw devices hijacked to produce anti-Semitic fliers, comes another attack on internet-connected printers – this time on a global scale.

A hacker going by the name Stackoverflowin has taken it upon himself to reveal how easy it is to access net-connected printers operating without a firewall.

Using an automated script he wrote himself, the hacker was able to scan for and identify devices with Internet Printing Protocol (IPP), Line Printer Daemon (LPD) and port 9100 open, then send out rogue print jobs to the targeted devices.

Some of the printed messages warns the user that their device has been “pwned” and are now “part of a flaming botnet”.

Two versions of the message were reportedly sent out to, as the hacker claims, more than 160,000 machines – the first with ASCII art depicting a robot and the second with ASCII art showing a computer.

Laugh it up, funny man

The message sent by Stackoverflowin also asks users to “close this port, skid”.

Users were left amused and confused, and many went online asking for advice on what to do.

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Slackoverflowin didn’t discriminate between brands of printers either – Canon, Brother, Epson, HP, Samsung and Konica Minolta were amongst the list of the 150,000 affected printers.

He claims that this prank was done in good fun. Speaking to Bleeping Computer, he said, “People have done this in the past and sent racist flyers, etc. I'm not about that, I'm about helping people to fix their problem, but having a bit of fun at the same time ; ) Everyone's been cool about it and thanked me to be honest.”

Sharmishta Sarkar

Sharmishta is TechRadar's APAC Managing Editor and loves all things photography, something she discovered while chasing monkeys in the wilds of India (yes, she studied to be a primatologist but has since left monkey business behind). While she's happiest with a camera in her hand, she's also an avid reader and has become a passionate proponent of ereaders, having appeared on Singaporean radio to talk about the convenience of these underrated devices. When she's not testing cameras and lenses, she's discovering the joys and foibles of smart home gizmos. She also contributes to Digital Camera World and T3, and helps produce two of Future's photography print magazines in Australia.