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back to article Office printers spew reams of garbage as 2-year-old Trojan runs wild

Computer printers around the world are spewing garbage following a flare-up of a strain of malware first detected two years ago, Symantec warns. A spike in infections by the Milicenso Trojan has hit businesses in the US, India, Europe and South America over the last two weeks or so – resulting in a massive, wasted print jobs at …

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Joke

2-year-old?

M$Office has been spewing massive, wasted print jobs for decades

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Facepalm

There I fixed it for you

Clueless managers have been spewing massive, wasted print jobs for decades.

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Devil

Re: There I fixed it for you

25 years ago when I was working on a site that used a mainframe based internal email system in a company that boasted of it's paperless office, I never understood why one of the managers printed all his email

Until I discovered that printing an email left it marked unread (you could see if an email you sent was read).

clueless managers, no, they only want you to think they are clueless, devious bastards is a better description

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Paper-spewing printers

A printer is a machine for producing scrap paper.

A mono laser printer is a machine for producing lots of scrap paper very quickly.

An inkjet printer is a machine for producing very expensive scrap paper.

A colour laser printer is a machine for producing lots of very expensive scrap paper very quickly.

Seriously, we had something like this way back in the Windows 98 days, as some malware tried to spread around the network by copying itself to any shared device it could find -- without bothering to distinguish between disks and printers.

The telltale indication that it was actually malware, and not someone switching on the printer after sending a print job (thus causing the "graphics mode" instruction at the beginning to be missed, and the binary data representing pixels to be mistaken for ASCII text and control characters) was the text "This program cannot be run in DOS mode" somewhere near the top of the first page.

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Pint

Who needs a trojan to do this?

Hands up anyone here who has never sent a binary file to the printer.

You with your hand up - you're fibbing :)

I've printed some corkers in my time...

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Anonymous Coward

Postscript

Sending a postscript file to a non -postscript laser printer...

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Facepalm

Re: Who needs a trojan to do this?

Binary file? Why a Binary file?

I remmember one PFY who worked for me who created a report on the mainframe from the engineering system parts catalog.

Every thing was fine until all the parts begining with the number '1' were printed, '1' being the ansi control character for a form feed.

Big report!

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Pint

Re: Who needs a trojan to do this?

Well, in my ancient career in graphic design, I've certainly generated a pantload of really expensive full-color waste paper -- uh, that is, proofs and comps for clients (yeah, what's the diff?) -- and I'll readily confess to accidentally sending large numbers of glossy-coated tabloid-size pages full of ASCII gibberish in full, glorious 600dpi color to the Tektronix high-res color waste paper generator -- uh, that is, Tektronix color PostScript printer in my old design shop.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Who needs a trojan to do this?

Indeed. Making a continuous loop out of the line printer paper in order to let a misconfigured job run to conclusion without wasting boxes and boxes of paper was an inevitable rite of passage at one time.

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Joke

mandatory...

"PC LOAD LETTER? What the fuck does that mean?"

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Headmaster

Re: mandatory...

It means "Paper Cassette: Load 'US letter' size (216 x 279 mm.) paper".

Which usually translates as "Some idiot has forgotten to set their default paper size to A4". Although, since every country in the whole world -- with one exception -- uses A4 (210 x 297) paper, that mistake is actually entirely forgiveable.

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Mushroom

Re: mandatory...

Also mandatory the printer on fire error message.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lp0_on_fire

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FAIL

Re: mandatory...

at least you got the icon right Professor Obvious. Hey look its the one person in western civ who hasn't seen Office Space.

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Happy

Re: mandatory...

@A J Stiles. Cool - can you tell me what this means? WHOOOSH!

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Go

Don't worry, you're safe if you subscribe to our product

The malware is typically distributed in either infected email attachments or malicious scripts on often otherwise legitimate websites.

I mean, MessagelabsSymantec.Cloud catches stuff like this before the fact, right? At least they did before the Symantec acquisition.

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maybe...

Just maybe... The malware writers have shares in paper company's around the globe.....

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Silver badge

Re: maybe...

I thought it could be an HP plot to sell more ink/toner carts

But: It wasn't a 300Mb download, it didn't put 47 icons in your systray, it didn't install any IE toolbars and it didn't keep directing you to an HP supplies page that was a 404

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Anonymous Coward

Re: maybe...

There's no money in paper. Toner, however...

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Gimp

If they were any kind of clever this would generate an "LP0 on fire" error as well :)

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Where is that folder?

I can't find a folder with a name like that on any of my PCs.

I have something called /var/spool though ...

Cheers

Jon

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FAIL

Whatever happened to the paperless office Tommorows World promised us so many years ago?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gr3_WQ4pVT0

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Happy

The paperless office died when we stopped using clay tablets.

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Coat

You had clay? stones the way to go my friend. Solid dependable long term record storage. Costs a lot in balloons to get it to the clouds though.

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Devil

What happened to that paperless office?

Well, once you created that cool online database and uploaded all the companies data onto it, you then had to print it all out again, as the PHB can only use the DOS version of msWORD he learned in college.

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Silver badge

What happened was .....

..... They invented the laser printer.

The quality of a daisy wheel (remember them?), the versatility and speed of a dot matrix (apart from an inability to cut stencils or make Banda masters, but those hand-cranked printing presses were already on the way out), and almost silent. Not even especially expensive, at least by the second generation.

Once there was no longer a good reason not to print stuff, everybody was printing stuff.

Windows' lack of support for multiple workspaces probably didn't help a great deal, either.

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Anonymous Coward

windows is what happened

windows and the complicit educational systems are largely to blame. until office workers can attach files, copy and paste, convert file types, send a freakin' email, etc. without being dependent on the program that is exporting the report to be able to transparently email via outlook you will never have your utopian dream of basic efficiency. whaaa haaa haaaa!

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Anonymous Coward

Printing emails...

I have one client who runs a pub conversion business. He refuses to have a PC and makes his PA print out EVERY email. Even the spam. All on special blue paper...

Anon? Yeah... client just went bust. Probably due to the printing costs....

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Angel

Mad user = trojan

"The malware is programmed to generate print jobs featuring reams of garbage characters from infected PCs until connected printers run out of paper."

Hmmm, in some companies I've worked for, this behaviour would have gone unnoticed. I remember a very depressive user, suffering from the "print-emails-before-reading-them" syndrom, which, in itself, is bad enough.

She was also suffering from the more serious "if-email-doesn't-turn-out-in-10-seconds-print-again" syndrom. This one gave identical effects from this trojan, any time there was a paper jam or any crowd in the spooler.

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Re: Mad user = trojan

What would happen if you disable her ability to print emails ?

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Go

Massive wasted print jobs?

Computer printers around the world are spewing garbage following a flare-up of a strain of malware first detected two years ago, Symantec warns.

A spike in infections by the Milicenso Trojan has hit businesses in the US, India, Europe and South America over the last two weeks or so – resulting in a massive, wasted print jobs at affected organisations...

I know this probably sounds really awful, but... why am I somehow getting a perverse kick out of this news? Yeah, I know how much damage trojans and other malware can cause, but, somehow... a trojan causing printers to spew pages of garbage characters until the paper runs out -- I'm somehow getting a huge laugh out of that.

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Unhappy

Please report

One place that I worked for went through a painframe report cleanup exercise. We found one monthly report that was being generated that was a stack of A4 paper that stood knee-high above the floor. The recipient would just tear off the last page that contained the summary figures and send the rest of the report back to be shredded.

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Joke

Paperless office?

They were speaking of the restrooms, not the printers.

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@Unicornpiss

"Restrooms"

Wow! —do some workplaces have special rooms for 'resting' in? I have to try and catch a quick forty-winks at my desk, when no-one is looking.

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