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Can My Printer Cause A Security Breach?

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I have a HP desktop, Windows 7, 32 bit, IE 11 computer with a Lexmark X5070 printer.


In the past, even though I shut the printer off, I found that if it is connected to my computer it will make buzzing and clicking noises all by itself as if it is sending a message out (to Lexmark?).


If I keep the printer connected to my computer am I creating a security breach?



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turning off the power to a printer does not usually actually "kill" the device ... it simply puts it into a low power/sleep mode (as it were) .

the sounds you hear are "maintenance cycling" .


it is possible for someone with a lot of savvy and time to actually hack their way to a printer that is networked and perform nefarious activities .

a personal case i seen was someone in a company sending files to a networked company printer and it then would print sundry commentary and pictures ...

including the infamous "butt print" .

it turned out that someone was accessing the wireless side that was left "wide open" by allowing anyone to print .

changing the settings and password protecting the access solved the problem .


there are settings in windows that will help with the security of the printer stuff ... as well as the measures one is able to implement in most AV/firewall programs .

technically , i suppose that one could say that plugging in a computer or printer is creating the possibility of creating a "breach" .

just as starting an automobile increases the chances of it being in an accident ... it is a matter of degrees and situation .


leaving the printer hooked up and powering it down is ok ... kind of a pain though .

do you live in an area that is densely populated with people and machines ?

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  • 3 weeks later...

I doubt bambangest knows what a "virus" is or how malware can affect a printer or any appliance.
So to counter that incomplete response let me state that malware can affect a printer.  There has been malware that will deliberately send jobs to the printer causing it to spew printed junk and thus waste both paper and toner/ink. 
Frankly I don't think Anne__Burns understands what she asks.


"If I keep the printer connected to my computer am I creating a security breach?"


A security breach is the act of penetrating ones defenses.  That is an action that causes an ingress of an invading entity.


When phrased as that above - no.  Printers are not a source for such an action.  However printers that have an embedded OS that use a Print Server and connects to a network can themselves be affected by malware and those that are physically connected to a computer can behave abnormally based upon a malware infection on its connected host.

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From the begging of this thread I learned of the very small likelihood of getting a virus via my printer. I was just making bambangest welcome. No harm was done.



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I have never heard of any printer that was loaded with any kind of malware.  Only the high end units have hard disks (like Xerox DocuCenters) as a queue for print-jobs and the RAM is volatile which means you turn off the printer and nothing remains in memory.  There are some like the HP LaserJet 1102w that has a non-volatile storage but that is not user writable and is checksum verified.  I have seen no cases of these devices being compromised.


If you have other information, please cite references.

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