Brice Bunner
Data Security

Don’t call me dumb: The tale of a smart printer


your smart printer isn't dumb, but it is vulnerableHi there.

You probably didn’t know I was over here, did you? The printer in the corner. I can tell you don’t think I’ve got much to say, but that’d be where you’re wrong.

You see, I used to think I was just a dumb, old printer—frequented only by bits of data to churn out as paper documents for the intern (she’s the only one who actually visits me, BTW). Day-in and day-out I take ones and zeros, mix in a little of my toner, and voila! a presentation deck, or poof! your 40+ email thread. You don't know what trouble I go to to get all those letters lined up!

…but then, you really don’t know much about me, do you?

For instance, did you know that—just last week—I was visited by an outsider? He seemed nice enough; tapping at my network port, asking to be let in… He tried a few random sets of letters and numbers, so I just thought he was a solicitor. He went away for a while.

Then, I got an odd message from Johnson’s desktop—a signal I get all the time, usually asking me to print spreadsheets. But this time, Johnson’s signal asked me to grant this outsider access to the other ones and zeros I have in my memory. It seemed 100%, so I went ahead and let him in.

Oh well, I understand why you don’t visit me anymore—heck, you’ve got an intern to do that now. But what she doesn’t know is that my port is still open to freely share whatever data I get from the office to that nice user who visited me. In fact, he left a little token that keeps the door open—just in case he wants to see me again.

I have to admit, I do like all the attention. But I can’t shake this feeling that he’s up to no good. You might want to have IT look at my ports—maybe even put some malware detectors in place. My memory isn’t as good as it used to be, but I recall seeing a blog you printed a while ago that talked about data access points being "back doors" for hackers (it was one of my finer spooling moments, if I do say so, myself).

Seems to me, that article made an excellent point about safeguarding everything that is “smart” or connected to the network—even fax machines and, well, me. Look, this outsider has been asking for more and more data—and even leaving bits of code behind when he goes—it’s starting to get so I can’t tell who’s who anymore! I feel less like a MC700 MFP, every day, and more like a router. I’m actually getting kind of worried.

Ah, but what do I know? I’m only a printer, right?


Hero Image ©: Dell Computers

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Memoir of a Business LaptopIf a laptop could speak, what would it say?





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