Not only could a hacker from the opposite side of the globe take control of your printer and issue instructions that could ultimately set the thing on fire, but it's very likely to happen, along with a host of other misdeeds, and it's all thanks to a new class of computer security flaws that has the potential to wreak havoc with businesses, with consumers, and yes, government agencies too.
Researchers at Columbia University told MSNBC about the recently discovered security flaws that cyber crooks can use to remotely control computer printers over the Internet, even ones sitting behind an otherwise secure network. The flaw applies to Hewlett-Packard's LaserJet printer lines, and maybe other models as well. One of the things that's particularly alarming about this is that there's no way to tell if the flaw's been exploited.
There's no easy way to fix the vulnerability either, according to the team of researches who have been working in secret for several months in an electronics lab funded by government and industry grants. HP is aware of the team's findings of a "crystal clear" flaw that has to do with firmware. In a demonstration of how it works, researchers sent instructions to a printer that heated up its fuser -- that part that's supposed to dry ink after it's printed on paper -- until the paper turned brown and started to smoke. Scary stuff.
MSNBC's article goes into a lot more detail and is a bit long as a result, but worth the read here .