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 user 2010-10-06 at 7:03:25 am Views: 46
  • #24313

    Certain HP scanners can permit snooping and spying
    models of HP combination printer and scanner devices contain a feature
    that could allow for corporate espionage, according to researchers at
    web security firm Zscaler.The feature, called WebScan, allows a user to
    remotely trigger the scanning functionality and retrieve scanned images
    via a web browser. This capability could allow anyone on the local area
    network (LAN) to remotely connect to the scanner and retrieve documents
    that have been left behind on the scanner, Michael Sutton, vice
    president of security research at Zscaler, told SCMagazineUS.com on

    The feature generally is turned on by default and, in
    many cases, is not password protected.“This does present a fairly
    significant security issue,” Sutton said.Hypothetically, a disgruntled
    employee could write a script to regularly run the scanner in hopes of
    capturing a forgotten confidential document, he said. Or a script could
    be written to run frequently, allowing a malicious insider to capture
    any documents that have been scanned using the WebScan feature.Also, an
    attacker could remotely abuse this functionality to obtain sensitive
    documents via scanners that have been exposed on the internet due to
    misconfigured networks, Sutton said.

    When used as intended on a
    secured network, WebScan is a tool that allows consumers and
    small-to-midsize businesses to share information quickly and
    conveniently, HP said in a statement.“HP encourages customers that use
    its products in a network setting to ensure that their network is
    properly encrypted and network security information is only provided to
    trusted parties,” the company said.Zscaler researchers were able to
    discover numerous HP scanners that were exposed on the internet and were
    not password protected. As a result, the researchers were able to
    remotely retrieve a number of sensitive documents from the HP scanners,
    such as checks, legal documents, completed ballot forms, phone numbers
    and certificates.

    “I think the internal threat is actually the
    greater one from the enterprise perspective,” Sutton said. “The majority
    of organizations aren’t going to be exposed externally. What’s more
    concerning is that there are millions of these scanners in enterprises
    and people likely don’t realize this feature exists, and anyone on that
    network has the ability to run that scanner.”Most all-in-one HP
    Photosmart and Officejet printers sold within the last several years
    have some variation of the WebScan functionality, Sutton said. It is
    possible that printers from other manufacturers also could be affected
    by similar issues.

    Zscaler has released a script on its blog to
    help users determine if they have any HP scanners on their LAN. Users
    can help prevent the function from being abused by setting an admin
    password for their device, Sutton said.It is becoming increasingly
    commonplace for printers, faxes and other hardware devices to be IP
    enabled and connected to the general-purpose computing environment
    within an organization, Sutton said.Any IP-enabled device can be
    exploited or used as an entry point into a network to attack other hosts
    on the network, Kevin Brown, delivery manager of custom testing at ICSA
    Labs, a security solutions tester, told SCMagazineUS.com in an email on

    Many IP-enabled devices use some sort of web server
    for administration and configuration that could introduce threats, Brown
    said. If the web server was custom built, it likely was not subjected
    to the same level of security testing as a more commonly available web
    server.If it is based on a common web server, such as Apache or IIS, it
    inherits any vulnerabilities that that particular web server has, he
    added.In addition, users are accustomed to patching their software for
    flaws, but generally never upgrade the firmware on their printer or
    other IP-enabled devices, Sutton said. And patching an embedded web
    server may not even be possible in some cases.“Typically, if there is a
    security vulnerability in a piece of hardware, it’s there for good,”
    Sutton said.