By Mathew J. Schwartz InformationWeek November 28, 2012
Some Samsung printers and Dell-branded printers manufactured by Samsung are vulnerable to being taken over remotely by an attacker.
That warning was made Monday by the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT), which said that the affected printers “contain a hardcoded SNMP full read-write community string that remains active even when SNMP is disabled in the printer management utility.” In other words, the printers have a hardcoded account in their firmware that can’t be disabled by users. SNMP, or simple network management protocol, is a TCP/IP-based network protocol used to manage and monitor network device configuration.
As a result of the vulnerability, “a remote, unauthenticated attacker could access an affected device with administrative privileges,” according to the CERT information security advisory. “Secondary impacts include: the ability to make changes to the device configuration, access to sensitive information — e.g. device and network information, credentials, and information passed to the printer — and the ability to leverage further attacks through arbitrary code execution.” That means that after accessing the administrator account, attackers could theoretically transform the printer into a malware-spewing attack platform that’s able to target any other network-connected device located inside the same network segment or firewall.
Samsung has acknowledged the vulnerability and promised to release a patch within days. “Samsung is aware of and has resolved the security issue affecting Samsung network printers and multifunction devices. The issue affects devices only when SNMP is enabled, and is resolved by disabling SNMP,” said Samsung spokesman Reuben Staines via email. “We take all matters of security very seriously and we are not aware of any customers who have been affected by this vulnerability. Samsung is committed to releasing updated firmware for all current models by November 30, with all other models receiving an update by the end of the year. However, for customers that are concerned, we encourage them to disable SNMPv1.2 or use the secure SNMPv3 mode until the firmware updates are made.”
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