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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 02:47 PM
Original message
Your Laser Printer is a Spy
Edited on Wed Oct-19-05 02:49 PM by TahitiNut
Your Laser Printer is a Spy
Techtree News Staff
Oct 19, 2005


The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a consumer privacy and digital rights organization, has analyzed codes embedded in printouts in color laser printers. The code cracked by the EFF was an invisible bar code that contained the serial number of the printer for tracking users as well as the date and time a page was printed.

In Xerox printers the code appears in a pattern of yellow dots visible only with a magnifying glass and a blue light. The codes are supposed to be for government agencies looking out for counterfeit currency printers.

The EFF said it has identified similar coding on pages printed from virtually every major printer manufacturer though it has so far managed to crack the codes for only one Xerox model.

Seth David Schoen, staff technologist, EFF, said that the dots are yellow, less than one millimeter in diameter, and are typically repeated over each page of a document. The pattern is visible under blue light with the help of a magnifying glass or a microscope.

<more>

See also ...
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/20...
http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/nation/3403012
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roseBudd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 02:53 PM
Response to Original message
1. That's why I make one print out for my flers, then head to Kinkos
plus at 4 cents a copy I have a feeling it's cheaper than ink.
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arwalden Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 02:55 PM
Response to Original message
2. So Buy Your Color Printer With Cash...
... and NEVER EVER EVER send in your warranty card.
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tatertop Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 02:57 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. there you go
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slampoet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 03:08 PM
Response to Original message
4. That EFF website also tells what printers don't have this code.
Those are the ones to buy.
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Alien8shon Donating Member (9 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 03:15 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. I'm gonna take a real flyer, here........
And guess that the website might not be quite entirely oversight-free...... hmmm?

Might I inquire what happens if there's a full color ink cartridge in the printer, but the gasket-cap of the yellow ink section somehow becomes...... magically disabled?
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 03:22 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. It'd be difficult to print greens and oranges.
Edited on Wed Oct-19-05 03:23 PM by TahitiNut
:silly: CMYK
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rainidame Donating Member (46 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 03:32 PM
Response to Reply #5
9. then yellow can't print
so the question becomes whether your printer software will let it print anyway.

BUT that brings to mind a frightening idea, any FLYERS, BROCHURES, ANNOUNCEMENTS OF PEACE RALLYS; all could be tracked if this current admin chooses to. How scary is that, . . .one thought would be . .. don't register any of your new printers. . . and don't use them, or even have them connected to the puter while online so they can't do it automatically.
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rainidame Donating Member (46 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 03:22 PM
Response to Original message
7. Well this explains a lot
I own a reprography lab which is basically a document reproduction on silver emulsion. . . When folks bring in digital color prints to be repro'd (my analog shop is all paid for and works great so I am still analog) vs hand drafted prints, I have to make a HUGE yellow correction, I soon DID realize that the papers all had a smattering of yellow dots on it only visible under a 48000% loupe, BUT I thought it was just "accidental" drops. I had no idea there was a purpose to them. . . wow, I will be looking with my 4800% loupe with head attached next time. . . intriguing
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killbotfactory Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 03:23 PM
Response to Original message
8. Now how am I going to counterfeit money?!?
Damnit, now I have to go with plan B...
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Teaser Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 03:40 PM
Response to Original message
10. Alright hackers...
let's crack this motherfucker.
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Dogmudgeon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 03:42 PM
Response to Original message
11. Can't they be hacked?
This color-skew and secret super-spy code is probably generated by microcontrollers, which are small, all-in-one computers that are often used in peripherals.

I'd be surprised if logical or physical hacks weren't available soon. If nothing else, a boycott of the offending devices in in order.

--p!
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 03:48 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. Once upon a time, I would've been able to ...
Edited on Wed Oct-19-05 03:50 PM by TahitiNut
... hack the then-current technology and blow my own hacked EPROM. I don't doubt this could be hacked on some printers, depending on the implementation.

It might be interesting to figure out what a well-placed Post-It Note might achieve on particluar printers.
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cmdrxog Donating Member (28 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 03:58 PM
Response to Original message
13. actually an old story
found this link almost a year old
http://patterico.com/2004/11/24/2352/what-your-laserpri... /
and almost certain I've seen this information online 3 or more years ago.
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 05:12 PM
Response to Reply #13
16. The 'new' story is that they've been decoded.
Edited on Wed Oct-19-05 05:12 PM by TahitiNut
EFF has broken the code.
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cmdrxog Donating Member (28 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 06:27 PM
Response to Reply #16
22. Thank you
guess it pays to read the links before posting.
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pnorman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 04:11 PM
Response to Original message
14. I'm assuming that this concerns only laser printers.
This came upo early on another thread, and one posting mentioned how CHEAP many printers are. They can be picked up quite reasonably, used for a mass printing job, and then dumped into a landfill (or into the East River, like Da Mob does with their implements).

I've never owned a laser printer, but I always thought they were well beyond what's generaly bundled "free" with computers.

pnorman
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Catch22Dem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 05:08 PM
Response to Original message
15. I gotta ask. Do I care?
:shrug:
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Kipling Donating Member (929 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 05:16 PM
Response to Original message
17. I'm not paranoid.
But everyone tries to make me paranoid.
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Prisoner_Number_Six Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 05:17 PM
Response to Original message
18. They outed this on a cop show last year
I think it was a CSI episode, although it may have been one of the other investigative cop shop dramas.

No surprise in any of it.
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Deja Q Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 05:18 PM
Response to Original message
19. 2 days old, the news is.
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 06:04 PM
Response to Reply #19
20. ONE day.
"Tuesday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a consumer privacy group, said it had cracked the code used in a widely used line of Xerox printers, an invisible bar code of sorts that contains the serial number as well as the date and time a page was printed."

:shrug: Today is Wednesday. Tuesday was ONE day ago.
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Robb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 06:21 PM
Response to Original message
21. So the question becomes:
Was this a voluntary implementation? Or did some arm of law enforcement require it?
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kurth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 06:52 PM
Response to Reply #21
25. It's a "voluntary" but unpublished standard
Edited on Wed Oct-19-05 06:54 PM by kurth
My understanding is if you want to set up a production line to make your own color printer, you will need certain semiconductor components to format and output the image onto paper. Inside one of these components lies a "microcode" devised/approved by the NSA/Secret Service which imbeds those yellow dots. However, the cryptography behind the code is customizable by the semiconductor supplier and it is fairly weak (it took the EFF only one week of not trying very hard to break the code - the methodology they used was a standard brute-force graduate-level homework exercise).
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IDemo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 08:37 PM
Response to Reply #21
26. I asked a firmware engineer in the R&D lab of a laserjet manufacturer
He replied that "we were doing the yellow dot thing on the high-end printers but now just use a firmware algorithm to detect currency and cancel the print job".
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fedsron2us Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 06:45 PM
Response to Original message
23. I have handed mine over to SMERSH
It will be shot at dawn.
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blackhorse Donating Member (248 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 10:41 PM
Response to Reply #23
31. Ah, yes,
... Death to Spies ...

perhaps someone should organize an All-DU Extraordinary Commission to Combat Antidemocratic Laser Printing!

BH
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Redstone Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 06:49 PM
Response to Original message
24. This has been known about for at least two years. Also did you know
that the latest versions of Photoshop won't open a scan of a $20 bill, or any Euro bills?

It has an algorithm built in that recognizes a pattern of stars on the bills, and won't let you open thi image.

Stone truth. Do a Google search if you want proof.

Redstone
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northzax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 08:41 PM
Response to Reply #24
27. I wonder how much you'd have to doctor it
to scan for artistic purposes?
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slampoet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 09:33 PM
Response to Reply #27
28. If you have a rally or protest or art damage piece use an ink jet.
Then Xerox it. Simple solution.

But this tech was mentioned in the magazine Mondo 2000 back in 1991-3 era. There is nothing new to this tech except that it has been decoded which means that one can fake the signature of others' printers.

"I didn't do it says the _______"

Now that the code is broken it should become easy to challenge it in court as forgable evidence.
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northzax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 09:34 PM
Response to Reply #28
29. right, but to be able to manipulate it in photoshop
of associated imaging programs...
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Redstone Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 10:04 PM
Response to Reply #27
30. The pattern of the stars is the key. Do a search on the
macintouch.com website, and you'll have all the information you need.

Or just use an older version of Photoshop, and you won't have the problem at all.

One more good reason to never get rid of old software.

Redstone
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