Canon PIXMA printers are popular printers for home and business use, but in a demonstration at the 44Con conference in London, security researcher Michael Jordon showed how the printer, like many other devices that cover the "Internet of Things," can easily be compromised. Jordon exposed the loophole by making the printer run the 1993 first-person shooter "Doom."
Just like most modern printers, the Canon PIXMA range of printers can be accessed over the internet where the user can check the status. It features a 32-bit Arm processor, 10 meg of memory and just the right screen size.
Jordon, who works for Context Information Security, learned that Canon's web interface is not equipped with a username nor a password. Once discovered, it means that anyone can easily check the device's status.
After conducting a search through Shodan, Jordon further learned that thousands of Pixma printers which are suspected to be vulnerable can already be discovered through the net. Furthermore, the site doesn't show any evidence if an attack has been done on the printers.
While the printer's remote access feature can be ignored, Jordon realized afterwards that being able to access the interface would allow the user to update the printer's controlling software, otherwise known as firmware.
Research shows that an encrypted firmware is still vulnerable to hacking. At this point, Jordon had the idea of running the 1993 Doom game on the printer.
"Running Doom, that's real proof you control the thing," said Jordon. "If you can run Doom on a printer, you can do a lot more nasty things. In a corporate environment, it would be a good place to be. Who suspects printers?"
A dedicated hacker could get hold of the documents that are handled by the printer. He could also start issuing commands to take up the target resources. If the device belonged to a business, he can also gain access to the network and perform further exploitation.
As a response to the demonstration, Canon promises to perform a fix while the company works closely with Context. "We intend to provide a fix as quickly as is feasible," said Canon.
Canon said that all of its PIXMA products that are launched from hereon will carry a username and password which are added to the printer's web interface. "Models launched from the second half of 2013 onwards will also receive this update, models launched prior to this time are unaffected. This action will resolve the issue uncovered by Context."