You Overtrust Your Printer

  • Giampaolo BellaEmail author
  • Pietro BiondiEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11699)


Printers are common devices whose networked use is vastly unsecured, perhaps due to an enrooted assumption that their services are somewhat negligible and, as such, unworthy of protection. This article develops structured arguments and conducts technical experiments in support of a qualitative risk assessment exercise that ultimately undermines that assumption. Three attacks that can be interpreted as post-exploitation activity are found and discussed, forming what we term the Printjack family of attacks to printers. Some printers may suffer vulnerabilities that would transform them into exploitable zombies. Moreover, a large number of printers, at least on an EU basis, are found to honour unauthenticated printing requests, thus raising the risk level of an attack that sees the crooks exhaust the printing facilities of an institution. There is also a remarkable risk of data breach following an attack consisting in the malicious interception of data while in transit towards printers. Therefore, the newborn IoT era demands printers to be as secure as other devices such as laptops should be, also to facilitate compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (EU Regulation 2016/679) and reduce the odds of its administrative fines.



We are indebted to Gianpiero Costantino and Ilaria Matteucci for arousing innumerable inspiring discussions. This work has been partially supported by the GAUSS national research project (MIUR, PRIN 2015, Contract 2015KWREMX).


  1. 1.
    Shemshadi, A., Sheng, Q.Z., Qin, Y., Sun, A., Zhang, W.E., Yao, L.: Searching for the internet of things: where it is and what it looks like. Pers. Ubiquit. Comput. 21, 1097–1112 (2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Costantino, G., Matteucci, I.: CANDY CREAM - haCking infotAiNment anDroid sYstems to Command instRument clustEr via cAn data fraMe. In: Proceedings of the 17th IEEE International Conference on Embedded and Ubiquitous Computing EUC 2019. IEEE (2019, in press)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Union, E.: General Data Protection Regulation (EU Regulation 2016/679) (2016).
  4. 4.
    Shodan: search engine for the Internet of Things (2019).
  5. 5.
  6. 6.
    International Organization for Standardization: Information technology - Security techniques - Information security risk management (2018).
  7. 7.
    Sirbu, M.: Security concerns in a 5G era: are networks ready for massive ddos attacks? (2019).
  8. 8.
    Vice: How 1.5 Million Connected Cameras Were Hijacked to Make an Unprecedented Botnet (2016).
  9. 9.
  10. 10.
  11. 11.
  12. 12.
  13. 13.
    Müller, J., Mladenov, V., Somorovsky, J., Schwenk, J.: SoK: exploiting network printers. In: 2017 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy (SP), pp. 213–230 (2017)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Wireshark: Wireshark project (2019).
  15. 15.
    Ettercap: Ettercap project (2019).
  16. 16.
    GitHub: Printer Exploitation Toolkit (2018).
  17. 17.
    Muller, J.: Printer Tool Wiki (2017).
  18. 18.
    Vice: This Teen Hacked 150,000 Printers to Show How the Internet of Things Is Shit (2017).

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Matematica e InformaticaUniversità di CataniaCataniaItaly
  2. 2.Istituto di Informatica e Telematica - Consiglio Nazionale delle RicerchePisaItaly

Personalised recommendations