Criminals now use scanners and printers to spread malware


Cyber criminals are now getting smart; they are making use of other hardware accessories to get their act together. The spoofing of scanners and printers is the latest method. They are sending a malicious attachment through printers and scanners, which trick the user to believe that the attachment is coming from the network printer.

The first of its kind attack was found in November 2017, by researchers of Barracuda, the malware had the ability to gain unauthorized access to a user’s computer and even conduct covert surveillance. The researcher found how the attacker attempt to infect the victim’s through email by impersonating HP, Canon, HP, and other brand printers/scanner device to earn his trust.

“Receiving a PDF attachment in an email sent by a printer is so commonplace that many users assume the document is completely safe,” researchers said on the blog. “From a social engineering perspective, this is exactly the response that the cyber-criminals want.”

Attackers are more PDF-oriented as they generate PDF files only because the user will think it is harmless and coming from a safe source, but on the contrary, it is harmful.

The email subject reads like “scanned from HP” or any printer within the network, and the attachment will have the malicious code. It will have a modified file name, which allows the attackers to hide the deceptive code inside the archive, imitating a ‘.jpg’, ‘.txt’ or any other format.

The malware in the attached email was intended to gain access to the victim’s system. It had this ability to monitor the activity, and even change the setting of the system, copy files, and use the bandwidth of the victims’ device.

To prevent these types of attacks, researchers recommend that users double check with the sender if they receive unexpected files or delete them, hover the mouse over hyperlinks to ensure they look legitimate and not click anything suspicious.

Researchers have warned the users to counter check before they download anything even it comes from a reliable source. Employees should be trained to identify such malicious files beforehand and should be taught about threat protection.

Kevin Jones149 Posts

Kevin Jones, Ph.D., is a research associate and a Cyber Security Author with experience in Penetration Testing, Vulnerability Assessments, Monitoring solutions, Surveillance and Offensive technologies etc. Currently, he is a freelance writer on latest security news and other happenings. He has authored numerous articles and exploits which can be found on popular sites like and others. He holds prestigious certifications like OSWP, OSCP, ITIL. His goals in life are simple - to finish her maiden business venture on Cybersecurity, and then to keep writing books for as long as possibly can and never miss a flight that makes the news.


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