Connecting your printer to the Internet allows your employees to print from virtually anywhere, but it also exposes your network printer to foreign invaders — malware, spyware, and fatal viruses. Is your printer safe from…PewDiePie?
Pew Die Who?
PewDiePie is a Swedish comedian with a massive YouTube following. Earlier this month, a clever PewDiePie fan hacked into 50,000 networked printers. Users in the UK and Canada complained of unsolicited printouts from internet-connected printers stating, “PewDiePie, the currently most subscribed to channel on YouTube, is at stake of losing his position as the number one position.” What follows is a list of instructions encouraging readers to exact revenge on rival T-Series channel. From December 2014 to February 2017, PewDiePie’s channel held the distinction of being the most-viewed YouTube channel, and as of November 2018, the channel has received over 19 billion video views with over 76 million subscribers. In 2016, Time named PewDiePie one of “The World’s 100 Most Influential People”.
A Dynasty Crumbles
But PewDiePie’s most watched channel status is in jeopardy as upstart Indian music video channel T-Series breaches the 75 million subscriber mark. This has prompted PewDiePie’s “Bro Army” to mobilize, urging non-believers to subscribe to PewDiePie’s channel and unsubscribe from T-Series. It’s a losing battle, and one that PewDiePie himself faces with tongue-in-cheek bravado. In October, PewDiePie uploaded a T-series diss track in response to their YouTube channel being projected to surpass his channel in subscribers. “I don’t really care about T-Series,” PewDiePie has stated, “But I think if YouTube does shift in a way where it does feel more corporate, then something else will take its place.”
Birth Of A Goofball
Born Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, PewDiePie is the son of two wealthy Swedish business executives and devoted a large part of his early career to playing video games, becoming best known for his Let’s Play commentaries. He is now mostly known for his comedic — and often controversial — YouTube videos. His use of profanity and politically incorrect language, as well as his off-color comments about the mentally handicapped, people of color, and Jews, have prompted quick apologies from PewDiePie. This year alone, PewDiePie had to issue apologies for misogynistic comments and insensitivity toward people struggling with addiction.
When Giraffes Attack
The real story here isn’t about PewDiePie losing his number one spot to T-Series. It’s about the vulnerability of networked printers. PewDiePie fan, TheHackerGiraffe, claimed responsibility for the printer attack. According to TheHackerGiraffe’s tweets, he took advantage of an open network port available on hundreds of thousands of printers worldwide which allows hackers to “capture or manipulate print jobs, access the printer’s file system and memory, or even cause physical damage to the device.” TheHackerGiraffe told The Verge he got the idea for the hack while browsing a repository for Internet-connected devices, claiming he found 800,000 available printers, and decided to attack 50,000 of them. “People underestimate how easy a malicious hacker could have used a vulnerability like this to cause major havoc,” TheHackerGiraffe told The Verge. “Hackers could have stolen files, installed malware, or used the printer as a foothold into the inner network. “The most horrifying part is: I never considered hacking printers before,” TheHackerGiraffe explained. “The whole learning, downloading and scripting process took no more than 30 minutes.”
Is your network printer safe from hackers? If not, PewDiePie’s unwanted appeal for YouTube supremacy is the least of your worries. Unsecure printers are vulnerable to a variety of cyber-threats. TheHackerGiraffe’s hijacked PewDiePie printout ends with the line; “Your printer is exposed to the Internet. Please fix that.” Good advice, Mr. Giraffe. Got any surplus toner you want to unload?