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HP printer hack risk prompts update

Firmware update guards against file snaffling

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Users of HP LaserJet printers need to apply a firmware update following the discovery of a potentially troublesome vulnerability.

The security bug creates a means for hackers to gain access to files sent to printers via the web administration console on vulnerable machines. A security advisory from HP explains various versions of its HP Digital Senders as well as HP LaserJet printers and HP Color LaserJet printers are all potentially vulnerable.

Users of HP LaserJet 2410, 2420, 2430, 4250, 4350, 9040, and 9050 series all need to upgrade their printer's firmware software to a secure version. HP Color LaserJet 4730mfp, HP Color LaserJet 9500mfp and HP 9200C Digital Sender users also need to update.

PCs and servers are the main focus for security updates, but embedded systems and devices (such as printers) also pose the occasional security risk. That's because printers and photocopiers have grown in sophistication to become document processing hubs instead of single-function boxes. Digital copies of scanned or printed documents are often stored on such devices, which are becoming more and more like other computing devices, and therefore subject to much the same security risks.

Printers can become the conduit for hacking attacks as well as a possible (though not especially potent) agent for spreading malware, as worms such as Code Red have illustrated.

"Printers tend to be low on the priority list of systems or devices to be patched - this one will likely linger for years to come," notes SANS Institute security researcher Adrien de Beaupre.

"The impact might not seem severe, as in the attacker can view the printer configuration - however, viewing cached versions of printed documents can be [serious]." ®

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