Can Toner Cartridges Get Hacked?

Cyber Security

Hackers don’t always appear as creepy, dark figures wearing hoodies and typing away at lines of code. Most of the time, they can look like any average person. They can also get onto your network through a variety of unsuspecting ways, and yes, even through toner cartridges.

According to a report from Norton, more than half of all consumers have experienced a cybercrime, with around one in three falling victim in the past year alone. Cyber-crimes are increasing and starting to get more creative in the ways they can get into your network through shady methods.


Even Your Toner Cartridges Aren’t Safe

Most office print cartridges have small chips located on their surfaces. However, most cartridges you get from third parties have weaker chips that can be accessed and reprogrammed. Even recycled cartridges could have data on the chips that have not been wiped properly. These factors can lead to two things–a hacker could reprogram the chip to spread malware, or a companies’ data that failed to be wiped from the chip after use could be leaked if it falls into the wrong hands.

If a toner cartridge’s chip has been compromised and the cartridge is entered into a company printer, an unauthorized user could immediately have access and control of that printer. Classified documents, sensitive data, and a companies’ network could be compromised.

Manufacturers have recognized these new, tactful threats to users’ cybersecurity. Most recommend not using third party supplies that are potentially lacking extra protection. HP has introduced their OE cartridges designed with tamper-resistant microchips with smart-card technology and security-hardened firmware. The chips in these cartridges are protected against modification to its code, blocking users from the threat of malware and leaks.


Other Potential Network Risks

There are many ways cyber criminals can gain access to your sensitive information, other than reprogramming printer cartridges.


Outdated Printers

Another way hackers are getting into networks is through outdated printers. How exactly can they break into a printer? Through pre-existing hard disk images, unsecure MFP functions, and open network ports. Making sure your printer is properly updated is part of maintaining its overall security. Just as physical printers can be outdated, so can the security software on those devices, which can lead to holes in your security and the potential for open vulnerabilities. Keeping your printer updated includes keeping up with newer models that have upgraded security firmware and patching. For more information on how to keep your printer updated and the ways an outdated device could be hacked, visit “Can My Printer Get Hacked”.


Phishing Scams

Phishing scams are mostly experienced through email, posing as trusted users or companies to prompt unsuspecting users to click a fake link or provide sensitive information for the sake of obtaining passwords or even money. When the scammer obtains private information such as passwords and usernames, this opens the door of the network for the cyber-criminal to be able to get access to tons more of your business’ vulnerabilities. In our article “Did You Know Phishing Simulations Help Prevent Cyber-Threats”, we highlight the different methods of phishing scams to look out for as well as ways your business can prevent them.


MFA Scams

Multi-factor authentication can be one of the best methods for protecting your network. Knowing this, many hackers have developed ways to scam users with false MFAs. These scams are typically in the form of phishing emails or fake MFA tokens. Once a user unknowingly falls for one of these scams, criminals can gain access to private domains and accounts, as well as spread malware on different devices. For more details how to recognize these scams and how to prevent them, visit our article “MFA Scams ae on the Rise as Cyber-Threats”.


Unstable VPNs

VPNs can be great tools for barricading your network against potential threats, however, a VPN provided by a third party might not be secure. An unstable VPN could become compromised by a hacker. VPNs are only as secure as the ones providing you with it. It’s crucial to ensure your choice of VPN isn’t just the least expensive option, but one provided by a trustworthy vendor, and one backed by other cybersecurity methods as well. “Are VPNs Safe for Your Business?” covers the ins-and-outs of what makes a VPN stable vs. unstable and exhibits how a secure VPN could benefit your business.


Start Increasing Your Security Today

Nothing is safe these days from the reaches of cyber-criminals, but that doesn’t mean your business can’t meet those threats with a full armory and line of defense. Methods of protecting your network are evolving to become stronger and more resilient, shown through the new ways of securing toner cartridges.

Usherwood provides clients with toner cartridges from their original manufacturers, minimizing the risk of compromise through preprogrammed chips. We're here to assist your business with all its security needs. Remember, you’re not alone in your fight against threats to your network. Reach out to us to receive a Tech Evaluation, so we can access all your network’s potential vulnerabilities and what we can do to ensure your business’ sensitive information is safe.

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About Darrian Breedlove, Content Writer

Darrian Breedlove is Usherwood's Content Writer. She manages Usherwood's message by integrating educational content into our company culture.