There are plenty of access points for a hacker, and they’re often tied to our very high-tech devices – all the pieces of hardware with “smart” in front of them for one example. But sometimes our dinosaurs, the work-horse predecessors of our fast-paced IT, are the ones holding open a back door for security weaknesses. At Def Con 26, an international hacker convention held annually in Las Vegas, some startling information was unveiled that had to do with your fax machine of all things.
That all-in-one printer of yours may have fax capabilities that a hacker could exploit by sending maliciously crafted image data via fax in order to take control of the printer, penetrate your network, and exfiltrate files. That’s what Check Point researchers Yaniv Balmas and Eyal Itkin warned attendees at Def Con 26.
Fax? Who still uses fax? The researchers said they Googled to find 300 million fax numbers still in use. And a fax number is all that an attacker needs to potentially take complete control of an all-in-one printer and “possibly infiltrate the rest of the network connected to this printer.”
The researchers were able to “faxploit” an HP Officejet Pro 6830 all-in-one printer. As you may recall, HP recently released firmware updates and advised users to patch ASAP. If you haven’t patched yet, you might want to get on that, as no one wants to admit to being pwned via antiquated fax.
As for that pwnage, the researchers “strongly believe that similar vulnerabilities apply to other fax vendors, too, as this research concerns the fax communication protocols in general.” Even the popular online fax service fax2email uses the same protocol and may be vulnerable.
Balmas admitted, “Nobody owns just a fax machine. Instead they own all-in-one printers. Many are connected to vulnerable networks.” He added, “We are able to take complete control over the printer just by sending a malicious fax. There is no prerequisite for this attack. All you need to do is send a malicious fax to the printer and you have control.” (from CSO online)
These attacks are made through the fax machine via the phone line, which is generally connected to the rest of the network. They send an image file containing malicious software over the line, then take control of the device and access the entire network. These attacks can be executed with just a simple fax number.
Network security is a constantly evolving landscape. The major threats this year will be old news next year. Cybercriminals are developing new ways to attack all the time, and sometimes these open windows are where you’d never think to look. If you’re concerned about your network security, and you should be, contact the network experts at Corporate Technologies Group. We can assess your network for vulnerabilities, recommend solutions, execute them, as well as monitor your network 24/7/365.