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Online coercion printer: Printers get used to it

Hewlett-Packard (HP). Since the 1980s, Epson and Co. In the ongoing story that you may pay more when buying original toner cartridges, but “save money in the long run”. exactly. Neither I nor most other printer owners, dear manufacturers, will. Businesses don’t either, whether they’re buying printers (and ink) for the office or for new remote workers who need to set up at home.

according to Consumer Reports Survey Regarding printer use in 2019, the most common complaints are about the high cost and/or difficulty of replacing ink cartridges – “which affected every brand of inkjet printers in our survey.” For my part, I was relying on “unofficial” Replacing cartridges and inks And really save money in the long run. Printed documents look fine and printers work well. I want to buy the original cartridges, but it’s easy for me very expensive. To put this into perspective, the cost of ink for an inkjet printer is now around $3,200 per liter. I love good wine too, but I don’t pay fancy prices for the bottle.

This is bad news, but it’s known for my favorite annoyance with printers: refusing to print in black and white when cyan or another color is (almost) blank. However, there are now more pressing issues with printers.

Manufacturers have already supplied their printers with firmware updates in the past to prevent users from refilling ink cartridges or purchasing replacement (non-genuine) cartridges. HP and Epson had This procedure was last selected in 2016. For my part, I do not attach much importance to the fact that my printer is intentionally paralyzed by its manufacturer through a software update.

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Then HP introduced a new variation on this with the Cartridge Protection setting. This not only prevents the use of replacement cartridges, but also limits the use of original cartridges with a specific (single) printer. So if you own, say, an HP OfficeJet Pro 251dw printer and an HP OfficeJet Pro 8600 inkjet printer, cartridges can’t be swapped between models after the first use – even though they use exactly the same cartridges. Fortunately, it is not too difficult to start this “customer satisfaction initiative” to bypass.

The latest ways manufacturers say they’re responsible says the printer won’t work until it’s connected to the internet Connected to an HP Smart account. This worry Walrus LaserJet M209dwe, MFP M234dwe, M234sdne and M234sdwe models. It can be assumed that other printer models will soon follow, which raises similar requirements – rather annoying.

I am happy with that. And not because I fear my ink levels or print products will be monitored, but because the manufacturer’s actions are causing a security hole in my network. I don’t care about unauthorized communication with printers on my network that send data in unknown amounts to HP. In general, every printer is a potential vulnerability just waiting to be exploited. A permanently connected printer screams due to a security issue. Meanwhile, we’re still fighting With Windows Print Spooler Vulnerabilities – So there is no need for another gap in the network.

Do you allow all of your users to access network printers? Practically speaking, this is exactly what happens every day and can mean that a smart user in the mail room can see what the manager has printed. To make matters worse, most modern printers come with built-in web servers (EWS). This makes it possible to manage settings remotely, retrieve updates, and perform routine maintenance tasks. This is very convenient – but is it also safe?

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A few years ago, security researchers showed at a Black Hat security conference that many EWS-powered printers didn’t have any noteworthy security measures in place. Some devices can be found directly online and are often not password protected. I haven’t checked the current state of printer security in detail – but I’ve looked at different printers at my own company and (medium and small) businesses for several friends. The result: In my opinion, all the models I’ve seen are more vulnerable than ever.

I won’t clean my printers yet, but I will only use them in absolute emergencies. (Minister of Foreign Affairs)

This article is based on an article from our sister magazine Computerworld.