PewDiePie Printer Hack is Back for More (Subscribers)

By Bill Toulas / December 17, 2018

Back in November, a Twitter user named “TheHackerGiraffe” managed to hack over 50000 printers, printing messages that urged people to subscribe to PewDiePie’s YouTube channel. It seems that the same hacker is back, hacking about 100000 machines this time, informing people in various places of the world that PewDiePie is again in danger of losing the 1st place as the most subscribed channel on YouTube.

Creator of PewDiePie, Felix Kjellberg, has an ongoing and long-lasting battle against T-Series, an India-based music label for the highest subscriber counts, but the printers hacker is unlikely to genuinely care about that. The primary purpose of the hack is to have fun and highlight a massive security problem in printer networks. That is why the hacker ends the printout message with “Seriously. Fix your printer. It can be abused!” The Swedish vlogger has also commented on the printer attack as follows: "As much as I'm absolutely humbled and so happy about all the support, I do feel really weird about it."

Now, if the hacker had more malicious purposes, he or she could force the printers to re-write data in continuous loops, leading to the decay of their components. Moreover, the hacker could also capture documents and steal valuable information, something that has not happened on either of these attacks. In the first attack, the hacker used a security hole in the connectivity of IoT-enabled printers using the Shodan search engine. While Shodan unveiled a pool of potential exploitation of 800000 printers, TheHackerGiraffe only targeted the first 50000, just to make a point.

Shodan Search Engine

Shodan search engine results on IoT printers

So, it seems that the first attack wasn’t enough for IoT printer owners to learn their lesson, and thus a second attack was extended to double the size. The method of penetration is likely to derive again by the use of the PRET kit, and it was again technically basic and completely automated. The device owners who want to avoid getting hacked again in the future have two choices: a.) Update the firmware of their device to the latest available update rolled out by the manufacturer, b.) Take the printer offline. Until either of these happens, it is likely that “TheHackerGiraffe” will continue this awareness-increasing hacks.

Do you own an IoT printer? Were you affected by either of the recent hacks? Let us know of your experience in the comments below, and don’t forget to like and share this story on Facebook and Twitter as well.

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