Researchers claim that HP laser printers can be hijacked to steal data and catch fire


The news was abuzz yesterday with coverage of a study released by Columbia University researchers warning consumers that HP laser printers are wide open to remote tampering and hacking. The researchers claim that the vast majority of printers from HP’s LaserJet line accept firmware updates without checking for any sort of digital authentication, allowing malicious users to abuse the machines remotely. The researchers go so far as to claim that modified firmware can be used to overheat the printer’s fuser, causing fires, to send sensitive documents to criminals, and even force the printers to become part of a botnet.

Officials at HP were quick to counter the claims, stating that all models built in 2009 and beyond require firmware to be digitally signed. Additionally, they say that all of the brand’s laser printers are armed with a thermal cutoff switch which would mitigate the fuser attack vector before any real fire risk would present itself. Despite HP’s statements, the researchers stand by their claims, asserting that vulnerable printers are still available for purchase at major office supply stores.

While most external attacks can easily be prevented with the use of a firewall, the fact that these printers accept unsigned firmware is undoubtedly an interesting one. We are curious to see if these revelations inspire anyone to create their own homebrew LaserJet firmware with advanced capabilities (and low toner warning overrides), or if this all simply fizzles out after a few weeks.

Apple laptop batteries vulnerable to firmware hack


When you think about hacking laptops, it’s highly unlikely that you would ever consider the battery as a viable attack vector. Security researcher [Charlie Miller] however, has been hard at work showing just how big a vulnerability they can be.

As we have been discussing recently, the care and feeding of many batteries, big and small, is handled by some sort of microcontroller. [Charlie] found that a 2009 update issued by Apple to fix some lingering MacBook power issues used one of two passwords to write data to the battery controllers. From what he has seen, it seems these same passwords have been used on all batteries manufactured since that time as well. Using this data, he was subsequently able to gain access to the chips, allowing him to remotely brick the batteries, falsify data sent to the OS, and completely replace the stock firmware with that of his own.

He says that it would be possible for an attacker to inject malware into the battery itself, which would covertly re-infect the machine, despite all traditional removal attempts. Of course, replacing the battery would rectify the issue in these situations, but he says that it would likely be the last thing anyone would suspect as the source of infection. While using the battery to proliferate malware or cause irreversible damage to the computer would take quite a bit of work, [Charlie] claims that either scenario is completely plausible.

He plans on presenting his research at this year’s Black Hat security conference in August, but in the meantime he has created a utility that generates a completely random password for your Mac’s battery. He says that he has already contacted Apple to in order to help them construct a permanent fix for the issue, so an official patch may be available in the near future.

[Thanks, Sergio]

Software security courtesy of child labor

We couldn’t help but poke a little fun in the headline. This is [Alex Miller], a twelve year old who claimed a $3000 bounty from Mozilla. See, [Alex] is a self-taught security guru. When Mozilla upped the reward for discovering and reporting critical security flaws in their software he went to work searching for one. He estimates that he spent an hour and a half a day for ten days to find the hole. Fifteen hours of work for $3000? That’s pretty good!

Is it good or bad to pay for these kind of submissions? The real question: Is the bounty high enough to get blackhats to report vulnerabilities, rather than selling software that exploits them? Let us know what you think in the comments.

[via Zero Day]

Kodak digital frame vulnerability

Kodak managed to release a product with a big fat security vulnerability. [Casey] figured out that the Kodak W820 WiFi capable digital frame can be hijacked for dubious purposes. The frame can add Internet content as widgets; things like Facebook status, tweets, and pictures. The problem is that the widgets are based on a feed from a website that was publicly accessible. The only difference in the different feed addresses is the last two characters of the frame’s MAC address. Feeds that are already setup can be viewed, but by brute-forcing the RSS link an attacker can take control of the feeds that haven’t been set up yet and preload them with photos you might not want to see when you boot up your factory-fresh frame.

It seems the hole has been closed now, but that doesn’t diminish the delight we get from reading about this foible. There’s a pretty interesting discussion going on in the thread running at Slashdot.

[Photo credit]

Lightning Rod: keeps you safe from dirty Flashers

A new open source package called Lightning Rod will help to close security exploits in Adobe’s dirty Flash code. A presentation made at the 26th Chaos Communication Congress showed that the package does its job by reviewing incoming code before the browser executes it. Heise Online is reporting that this method can block over 20 different known attacks and can even be used to filter out malicious JPG attacks. As more vulnerabilities are discovered they can be added to Lightning Rod to close the breach. This amounts to a virus scanner for Flash code. It’s great to have this type of protection but why can’t Adobe handle its security problems?

[Photo Credit]

[Thanks das_coach]

How to crack a Master lock

Long, long ago we covered a method to crack a Master lock in about 30 minutes or less. Here’s a revival of the same method but now the instructions to retrieve the combination are in info-graphic format created by [Mark Edward Campos].

If you didn’t get to try this the first time around, here’s how it works: A combination of a physical vulnerability, math, and brute force is used. First, the final number of the code can be obtained by pulling up on the latch while the dial is rotated. Because of the way the lock is built the correct number can be extrapolated using this trick. Secondly, a table of all possible first and second number combinations has been calculated for you.  Third, it’s your job to brute force the correct table of possibilities which includes only about one hundred combinations.

We’re not really into felony theft and hopefully you’re not either. But, we have a nasty habit of needing to use a combination lock that’s been in a drawer for a few years and having no idea of what the correct code might be.

Update: We’ve had a lot of comments about shimming as a better method. For your enjoyment we’ve embedded a video after the break that details how to shim a Master lock using a beer can. Just remember: friends don’t let friends drink and shim.

Continue reading “How to crack a Master lock”

Android app “tests” Windows vulnerability


An Android App for “testing” the Windows SMB2 vulnerability we covered last week has been released. For testing? Yeah right! The availability of this kind of software makes it ridiculously easy for anybody to go out and cause some havoc. Go right now and double check that your machines that run Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008 are protected (see the “workarounds” section.)

[Thanks Tom101]