Barely Legally

Confessions of a Moot Court Bailiff

Stupid Print Tricks

Today in silly headlines, “Millions of printers open to devastating hack attack, researchers say.” Or, “guys who make money by writing about crazy stuff write crazy stuff; say it could totally happen bro.” Via MSNBC:

Could a hacker from half-way around the planet control your printer and give it instructions so frantic that it could eventually catch fire? Or use a hijacked printer as a copy machine for criminals, making it easy to commit identity theft or even take control of entire networks that would otherwise be secure?

It’s not only possible, but likely, say researchers at Columbia University, who claim they’ve discovered a new class of computer security flaws that could impact millions of businesses, consumers, and even government agencies.

On the one hand, that’s stupid. On the other hand, that’s stupid like a fox; no one ever suspects the printer of being malicious, just poorly designed. When your printer breaks down or the print wizard locks your computer, is it really an accident, or is it sending all your secrets to China?

Seriously, though, we all laughed when Calvin Trillin predicted the underwear bomber in 2006. That was a punchline. Then some dude actually tried to stuff a bomb in his pants, and now the TSA takes a photo of my penis every time I fly home to see my grandparents. Some jackass is actually going to try to set fire to his school computer lab with one of these firmware hacks, and then we’ll all have to use stone tablets at the library. Mark my words.