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HP laser printer hack raises concern, millions vulnerable (updated)

By Rick · 14 replies
Nov 29, 2011
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  1. Researchers from Columbia University have demonstrated a security flaw found in, but perhaps not limited to, HP printers which can actually lead to fires. The exploit allows hackers to reprogram…

    Read the whole story
  2. Ubwarcher07

    Ubwarcher07 TS Rookie

    Yes make it a public announcement so everyone can start flame wars -.-
  3. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,357   +116

    And there was me thinking I was alone in my abilities to make computer hardware combustible... :(
  4. prove it... hate these theories. you tube it or shutup
  5. Placeholder

    Placeholder TS Rookie Posts: 21

    Sounds like a fitting end to my printer.
  6. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,962   +1,229

    As someone who has been in the photocopier business as a repair tech for thirty years, I can tell you this is a bunch of hog wash. In the late 70's, early 80's, it was NOT uncommon for paper to literally catch on fire, due to the nature of the "toaster oven" fuser units that these machines had. With the advent of heat & pressure fuser units, a "flash over" has disappeared. As for remotely setting the fusing temperature to a point where the paper could catch on fire, that is impossible also. There are several safeguards built into every heating circuit on copiers, printers etc.
    1. A thermistor (temperature monitor) that monitors the surface temperature of the heating rollers.
    2. A thermal fuse/breaker that senses the temperature of the rollers. It's a one shot device that, when the
    temperature reaches an unsafe level (usually 20-25 degrees C above normal, will pop, and open the voltage
    going to keep the heating elements active. It is connected on one side to the "mains" (AC), and the other
    side to the heating element. If it is open, no current can flow, and the heater goes off.

    So, if a person were to remotely change the temperature to somehow deactivate the heater thermistor to not
    tell the CPU what the temperature was, and or the voltage applied to overheat the fuser were done, the fail
    safe thermal fuse melts, disconnecting the circuit. Even if the machine were to overheat, the UL requires the
    failure of the thermal fuse to fail, before the flashover point of the paper. Yes, the paper will brown, flake off,
    but it is impossible with the machines built since the mid 80's to "catch on fire". The failures of machines
    in the 70's to very early 80's made apparent the flaw, and Underwriters Lab, government etc made sure it can't happen again. From time to time, I will get a service call about "overheating" and have to continue to explain
    that you could leave a piece of paper in the fuser, 24/7 and the only thing that will happen is the paper
    will turn brown & smell.
  7. Vicenarian

    Vicenarian TS Booster Posts: 104   +10

    Finally, the voice of reason!
  8. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 4,464   +3,024

    Picture reminds of movie The Office - take your printer out, give it another hole to breathe through ;)
  9. Lokalaskurar

    Lokalaskurar TS Enthusiast Posts: 514

    Places printer behind firewall, printer is set ablaze anyway :)
  10. H3llion

    H3llion TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,692   +438

    Gotta try this at home! Or rather should be a warning.


  11. gwailo247

    gwailo247 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,007   +18

    Hahaha. I think if you ignite a non-HP printer you'll keep your crown.
  12. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,357   +116

    Sorry, but I'm not torching my new Epson BX320FW, I only just got it! :haha:

    I do have a perfectly working Lexmark printer on the shelf looking miserable though.......
  13. Mizzou

    Mizzou TS Enthusiast Posts: 783

    A bunch of college kids in computer lab try to ignite a printer and suddenly millions are at risk. Good thing we have Techspot to keep us abreast of these emerging threats :)
  14. gwailo247

    gwailo247 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,007   +18

    I think a dot matrix printer making that horrible screeching noise while burning, its plaintive cries slowly fading as the flames get bigger, would be a great sight.
  15. Imagine the danger to asses everywhere if it were to happen to copiers too. He farted while copying his *** on the glass and the whole machine just sploded!

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