For the second time in less than three weeks, a hacker has forced thousands of internet-connected printers to spit out messages in support of Swedish video game commentator and YouTube star PewDiePie.
The prankster said he (or she) is doing it to raise cybersecurity awareness, according to a BBC report, and claims he could even cause physical damage to the printers by repeatedly writing data to their chips until they fry.
The initial attack, which occurred in late November, reportedly caused roughly 50,000 printers to churn out a message urging readers to follow PewDiePie in order to ensure that his channel remains number one in total subscriptions. The perpetrator, who refers to himself as TheHackerGiraffe, struck again in the last several days, this time possibly doubling the number of affected printers to 100,000 machines.
TheHackerGiraffe explained via Twitter that he pulled off the giant print job by first using Shodan to search for open printer ports, ultimately finding approximately 800,000 exposed printers. He then employed a tool called the Printer Exploitation Toolkit, or PRET, to take command of the printers — specifically the first 50,000 printers he found running on port 9100.
“PRET had the scariest of features. Ability to access files, damage the printer, access the internal network…things that could really cause damage. So I had to do this, to at least help organizations and people that can protect themselves,” the hacker tweeted. Later, in an interview with the BCC, the hacker said he was “trying to show that hacking isn’t a game or toy,” because “it can have serious real-life consequences” and “causing physical damage is very much a possibility.”