Hewlett Packard to release new printers with "self-healing security"

Computer company Hewlett Packard has announced it will be launching three kinds of “self-healing” LaserJet printers, aimed at preventing attackers from targeting printer's firmware.

HP says that this new line of printers will be able to “protect, detect, and recover” from firmware attacks. It will do this, HP says, by automatically triggering a reboot. “after the reboot occurs,” HP's technical brief on the new printers reads, the printer “automatically assesses and, if necessary, remediates device security settings to comply with pre-established company policies.” It adds, “there's no need for IT to intervene.”

The computer company says that this new, more secure, system works with three new features. Runtime Intrusion Detection is the printer's firewall. This feature is designed to automatically reboot the device in the event of an attack, wiping the malicious code from the printer's memory.  HP Sure Start, the second new feature, scans the BIOS source, the software required for booting the operating system. HP has said of the feature that it “validates the integrity of the BIOS at every boot cycle. If a compromised version is discovered, the device restarts using a safe, “golden copy” of the BIOS.”  Finally, and when the printer has been restarted the printer's third feature kicks in. Whitelisting confirms that the firmware code is legit before, loading it back on the system.

Firmware attacks have been a problem for HP LaserJet printers in the past. In 2011, two researchers at New York's University of Columbia discovered a vulnerability in HP LaserJet firmware. At the time Computer World online reported that “Millions of Hewlett Packard Co.'s LaserJet printers contain a security weakness that could allow attackers to take control of the systems, steal data from them and issue commands that could cause the devices to overheat and catch fire.”

The new printers, M527, M577, M506, will be released at the end of November. These features will also be added to older HP models through firmware updates.