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HP printers may be controlled, set fire by hackers: research

(Xinhua)

09:05, November 30, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- Some Hewlett-Packard (HP) printers are vulnerable to hacker attacks which may instruct the devices to catch on fire, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

Under government and industry grants, researchers from Columbia University found that a feature called "remote firmware update" on HP's Internet-connected LaserJet printers could allow hackers to install malicious software and take control of the printers, according to reports by The Red Tape Chronicles, a popular blog on technology crime and consumer fraud at msnbc.com.

The researchers believed that the security flaw is not limited to HP printers and they just began to sample devices from other manufacturers.

After taking control of HP printers in the study, researchers were able to send the document printed on the infected machine back to a hacker's computer, compromising personal information. They also easily disabled printer and managed the printer to continuously heat up its ink-drying component until it set on fire.

They said there is no easy fix for the flaw they had found in some HP LaserJet printers and perhaps on other firms' printers too, and there is no way to tell if hackers have already exploited it.

The researchers noted that the new class of security flaws could impact millions of businesses, consumers and even government agencies.

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