HP is justified: the cheap cartridges you buy could have viruses

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hp is justified the cheap cartridges you buy could have.jpg
hp is justified the cheap cartridges you buy could have.jpg

Official HP brand printer cartridges

Recently HP made a drastic decision which prevented the use of cheap cartridges in their printers. At the time, it caused a logical rejection by the user community. But, as they explain now that they have broken the silence, there was a good reason for doing it: to fight viruses.

What if the cheap ink cartridges that we have all used at some point turn out to be infected by viruses and we are not even realizing it? It is not that all third-party (or “white label”) cartridges are infected, but they are part of them could be, or even specific remittances. No one had thought about it, although it could be a very destructive plan if hackers adopted it.

HP defends itself against criticism

The whole world was quite surprised when HP decided that they were done with using cheap cartridges in their printers. If a user reloaded one on one of his computers, this would be blocked. It is a radical measure, but logical if we look at their point of view. After all, HP has seen for years how many stores sold thousands and thousands of cheaper cartridges that, when push came to shove, offered performance as good (or almost as good, depending on the case) as the originals. .

A printer manufactured by HP printing a photo

 

 

In recent statements in an interview with CNBC, Enrique Lores, CEO of the company, explained that the reason for blocking the cartridges is for security. Because, as he details, hackers can use the cartridges from other brands to load malware inside them and activate it the moment the printer is turned on.

A strange process, but possible

In the world of computer security we have seen practically everything. That HP tells us that its printers can serve as a malware access point For it to spread across your network and also reach your computer, it shouldn’t be hard to believe. Printer cartridges do not have much memory inside, but they do incorporate a small part that could be exposed to being manipulated with bad intentions. However, their words are obviously not enough to demonstrate that what they say is real.

As proof, they present a study that was carried out in 2022 and that, yes, was part of HP’s program for locating and discovering bugs. That takes away a bit of credibility., at least in some ways, but it should be proof enough that, in some ways, they might be right. Something different would be if what they have done with the blocking of the other cartridges has been due to the discovery they made in 2022 or if it has been motivated by other reasons (or it is possible that it is a combination of everything).

Refilling the color ink containers in a printer

In the study in question, what a security specialist did was insert malware inside a cartridge which was not HP brand. That virus he uploaded gave him complete control over the printer in what he defined as persistent access to the computer. From there it has not been delved into, but logic suggests that the control he would have of the printer would help him carry out other aggressive actions against the system. Of course, HP also says that although they have proof that it is possible, they acknowledge that they have never detected an attack of this caliber.

Now what we have to think about is if they have not opened a door that should be closed, since it could be that they were inspiring hackers to attack other manufacturers’ printers. In their case, they are convinced that the choice they have made to block the other cartridges and cause problems in their printers is a sensible decision. On the sidelines there are data that cast doubt on their intentions, such as the fact that the prices of their cartridges have increased just after introducing this dynamic security system.

A printer with Brother brand ink cartridges

On the other hand, we did not want to finish without mentioning that, speaking with a group of security experts, from Ars Technica They have concluded that it is really complicated that this type of attack can be carried out. All the specialists consulted end up agreeing that it is very unlikely that incidents of this type will be recorded and, if they did occur, it would be to specific profiles and not to ordinary users. Therefore, we will have to see how justice takes HP’s explanation that it is beginning to use to defend itself against the complaints it is receiving. Meanwhile, the company is still mulling over a new subscription service that will change the way you buy ink.

 

 

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Abraham
Expert tech and gaming writer, blending computer science expertise