Protect your printer by keeping the firmware up to date

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Q: Do printers really need to update their software?

A: The first line of defense against most malicious activity perpetrated online is to ensure that your devices and software are protected by installing the latest updates, including most of today’s printers.

While updates aren’t always for security purposes (they can also improve functionality or even add new functionality), they often fix newly discovered vulnerabilities.

When you fail to install these updates, you become a valuable target for those looking to exploit unprotected users through malicious websites or phishing scams.

When you visit a website, there is an exchange of information in the background which may include a silent probe of your device to see if it is vulnerable.

Malicious files that may appear as official documents in an email are another approach hackers use to silently probe your devices for unpatched vulnerabilities.

Firmware updates

Hardware devices often use small, embedded software programs installed during the manufacturing process, called firmware, which provide a set of instructions on how the device works.

Because this code is embedded in one of the hardware components, it is not the same as traditional software or an operating system, but the update process generally works the same.

You would go to the support section of the manufacturer’s website to find your specific model and check for updates for that device. Once downloaded, getting the update on your hardware device usually requires it to be connected to your computer.

Specific instructions for installing the firmware update for each device are usually provided with the update on the website.

A variety of common hardware devices such as printers, scanners, cameras, routers, smart home devices, streaming media players, and smart TVs offer firmware updates. If it connects to the Internet in any way, it is very important to keep up to date with security updates that are released.

In some cases, updates may be automatically downloaded and installed, or you can go to the device’s settings menu to see if an update is available (eg Apple TV).

Many smart home devices have an associated app that can be used to check for and install updates over Wi-Fi.

Review of HP printers

Hewlett Packard recently released a security critical advisory for many of their print and digital send products due to a potential remote code execution vulnerability.

This type of vulnerability is considered very serious because it could allow a remote attacker to have full access to the device.

This can be particularly dangerous for large corporate networks, as the printer can become the gateway to much larger attacks on the network.

Affected devices include many popular HP LaserJet, OfficeJet and DeskJet models. Therefore, anyone with an HP printer should check to see if their device is included in the notice.

If so, you can locate the firmware update for your specific device through HP Customer Support Downloads. page.

If your HP printer connects directly to the internet, you should be able to check for the firmware update through the printer’s control panel by accessing the settings menu.

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