Cybercriminals are always trying to stay one step ahead of security precautions. There seems to be a constant flow of new digital threats out there.
Traditionally, hackers would target our smartphones and computers for their devious schemes. Now, they are going after gadgets all over your home that you would never suspect.
Researchers at a college in Germany recently discovered serious flaws found in many popular internet-connected printers. These vulnerabilities would allow cybercriminals to do several underhanded things.
How cybercriminals can use your printer against you
Everyday smart-appliances such as printers, webcams and routers, can be used as tools by cybercriminals. These Internet of Things (IoT) devices are able to be hacked because they are connected to the internet.
They are typically used as a botnet in distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against websites. DDoS attacks occur when servers are overwhelmed with more traffic than they can handle, causing one or more websites to crash.
However, the flaws found in these printers are even more serious. Here are some of the malicious things hackers could do if these flaws are exploited:
- Steal sensitive information - Criminals could remotely steal information from documents that you print.
- Shut down or hijack networked printers.
- Capture passwords - These printers could be used as an entry point to steal network credentials.
- Malware - hackers could infect your printer with malware.
- DDoS - They could also be used in the traditional example as a botnet to take part in a DDoS attack.
The researches found 20 printers from several manufacturers with these flaws. The affected printers are listed in the following chart:
Image: List of affected printers (Source: Web in Security)
What you need to do
There's not an easy way to know if an IoT gadget has been compromised. To be safe, I'll tell you how to protect your IoT gadgets.
Since IoT appliance infections only reside on temporary memory, the first thing you have to do is reboot the device to clear out the malware.
If you are checking your router, IP webcam or connected printer, it is important that you change the default administrator username and password. Do this by accessing the appliance's hub (usually through a webpage or a smartphone app). If your smart appliance connects via the manufacturer's website, make sure your password is complex and unique.
Next, check for firmware updates. It's important to keep your firmware always up to date. If your gadget does not automatically fetch firmware updates, make sure to manually check at least every three months.