December 17, 2018 at
Gadget users around the world often tend to forget that securing their computer is not enough and that each of their Internet-connected devices needs just as much protection. This also includes printers, which were hacked for a second time, supposedly by a Twitter user called @HackerGiraffe.
During the first attack, HackerGiraffe sent out a message on 50,000 printers worldwide, urging their “victims” to secure their devices, but also to subscribe to a popular YouTuber, PewDiePie. HackerGiraffe also stated at the time that they have found a lot more unsecured devices and that it was their choice to only hack 50,000.
Now, the hack happened again, with a supposed number of hacked printers reaching 100,000. It should be noted that this claim has yet to be verified. However, on Monday morning, the social media became flooded with images of printouts made by the attacker. The reports of hacked printers are coming from numerous countries around the world, including Australia, the US, Spain, and the UK.
PewDiePie vs T-Series
The printed message is a continuation of PewDiePie community’s efforts to prevent an Indian largest music company, T-Series, from becoming the most subscribed YouTube account. The ongoing battle for subscribers between a music company and YouTube’s most subscribed individual creator — Felix Kjellberg, also known as PewDiePie — has been going on for several months now.
Since then, PewDiePie’s cause was supported by the platform’s consumers, content creators, and even celebrities and other companies, all of which claim that they are “doing their part”. The community’s efforts to prevent T-Series from overtaking PewDiePie’s position have included shout-outs by those with influence, ‘Subscribe to PewDiePie’ flyers and other means. Recently, hackers have apparently joined the cause as well.
Kjellberg was also under media fire in the last several years due to controversies regarding accusations of anti-semitism and the use of racial slurs in one of his videos. The most recent incident includes him giving a shoutout to nearly 30 smaller YouTube channels, one of which contained several anti-semitic references.
It should be noted that PewDiePie himself addressed the issue, stating that he does not support anti-semitism and that he would not have promoted the channel if he had noticed them prior to media attention. As for the other “incidents” over the years, all were confirmed by Kjellberg to be nothing more than distasteful jokes. After the latest incident was reported, the channel featuring anti-semitic content was removed from Kjellberg’s own video.
At the time of writing, PewDiePie has over 77 million subscribers, with T-Series being nearly 1.4 million users behind. This is why the hacker used their knowledge to point out the vulnerability of users’ printers, and also send a message urging others to subscribe to PewDiePie.
Vandalism or a warning?
While many have condemned the move, calling it ‘vandalism’, the message that was printed out is clear: “Seriously. Fix your printer. It can be abused!” After being contacted, the hacker confirmed that the move was an attempt to point out the real-life consequences of not properly securing vulnerable devices. While their intention was to point out the flaw, there are many others with more than enough knowledge to do the same for more malicious purposes.
— Mcw95 (@McwNL95) December 17, 2018
Printers are just as vulnerable as any other device with internet connection. Furthermore, they can be used to rewrite data in continuous loops, which will eventually damage the machine. They can also be used for manipulating information or even capturing sensitive documents. The costs of repairing the device in case of damage can be high enough, even if printers do not get used for spying and stealing data.