HP CEO, Enrique Lores, has revealed the company has found that ink cartridges can be hacked with viruses and has used this as the reason the company has implemented its Dynamic Security system (DSS), as reported by Ars Technica.
The global IT company is facing another lawsuit over its DSS, which it insists on deploying to its printers. It prevents HP printers from functioning without ink cartridges that have an HP chip or HP electronic circuitry installed. It has installed firmware updates that block printers with non-HP cartridges from printing, which has led to the latest lawsuit.
The suit claims HP printer customers were not made aware that these firmware updates could lead to their printers no longer working if they used third-party cartridges and calls for an injunction preventing the company from issuing printer updates that block cartridges without an HP chip.
But Lores has moved to explain the reasons behind this move by confirming a rather frightening discovery. Speaking to CNBC Television, he said: We have seen that you can embed viruses in the cartridges.
“Through the cartridge, [the virus can] go to the print, [and then] from the printer, go to the network.”
A 2022 article from research company Actionable Intelligence revealed that a researcher in the program uncovered a way to hack a printer via a third-party ink cartridge, but was unable to replicate the same hack when using an HP cartridge. This has seemingly led to HP making moves to prevent such incidents, although it has acknowledged that there’s currently no evidence of such a hack happening in the real world, only claiming that it’s possible.
A stronger case for HP’s subscription model?
As the California-based firm uses potential ink cartridge hacks as an excuse to protect its printers, it’s also another step closer to HP strengthening its subscription model.
They aim to convince printing device owners to commit to HP ink, which subsequently recoups losses from the initial sale of a printer. Lores confirmed that the company loses money when it sells a printer and makes its money through supplies, such as cartridges.
Therefore, HP’s DSS moves to strengthen that decision-making process for the consumer and subsequently increase the company’s recurring revenues via its existing subscription program, Instant Ink, which the company’s CFO, Marie Myers, previously confirmed brought a “20 percent uplift” on the value of a single customer.
With the potential threat of printers and computers being hacked, HP printer owners now have an even larger incentive to subscribe.
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