Security Market Segment LS
Wednesday, 24 October 2012 09:09

Xerox and McAfee team to protect MFDs from malware

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Attacks on or using networked printers or multifunction devices are nothing new, but the growth in malware is affecting embedded systems including those used in such devices, according to Tom Moore, McAfee's vice president of embedded security.

While Xerox (Fuji Xerox in Australai) has been taking various steps to protect its products, Rick Dastin, president of the company's office and solutions business group, said these higher walls were not enough, and suggested "a barking dog" was called for.

So Xerox will add McAfee Embedded Control to its devices, starting with on WorkCentre and ColorQube models in the first quarter of 2013. "The first thing it does is bark - it barks loud," he said.

One issue is that most people don't expect printers to be vulnerable to malware. Embedding the security software into the controller means users and administrators do not need to worry about it.

McAfee Embedded Control works by whitelisting the software that is supposed to run on the device and blocking everything else.

So even if malicious code arrives on the device, it won't be executed, Mr Moore said, making this a very effected way of securing devices.

McAfee Embedded Control reports any unexpected activity to McAfee's ePO, to the Xerox management tools, or (especially relevant to smaller organisations) via email. Potential customers and channels partners had reacted positively to this concept, he added.

There are a variety of malware vectors for printers, including the page description language data stream (ie, a malicious print job), email sent to the device, attacks on the built-in web server (which is intended for device management), replacing the hard drive with one containing malware, or putting the malware onto a USB drive which is subsequently plugged into the computer.

Mr Dastin said there are probably more entry points on a MFD than there are on a PC.

Malware functionality includes exfiltrating copies of print or scan jobs, and using the MFD to launch an attack from inside the organisation (eg, SQL injection attacks).

The most serious threats in this regard are criminal enterprises and state actors, Mr Dastin suggested.

Disclosure: The writer travelled to Las Vegas as the guest of McAfee.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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