A closer look at HP's ePrint spam controls

A closer look at HP's ePrint spam controls

Summary: This week I spent a couple of days in Istanbul being introduced to HP's new web-connected printer range and ePrint centre, and I took the opportunity of checking out the anti-spam measures of the service.The ePrint service itself isn't new, but a few of the devices on show were.

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TOPICS: Mobility
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This week I spent a couple of days in Istanbul being introduced to HP's new web-connected printer range and ePrint centre, and I took the opportunity of checking out the anti-spam measures of the service.

The ePrint service itself isn't new, but a few of the devices on show were. Hp's ranging a whole variety of printers and scanners with web-connected functionality, meaning that documents, PDFs, images and a bunch of other files can now just be emailed directly to a printer anywhere in the world.

Aside of the fact that the service still seems to be largely unable to print actual web pages, the obvious concern that springs to mind is security.

The first line of defence is in the printer's unique ID email address, which you can change, but would presumably make the printer less secure. For example changing it from xf5654hui8sdf@re342.hp.com to officeprinter1@re342.hp.com, I'd have thought would make it more susceptible to spam.

This isn't the only security measure in place though, you can also create white and black lists to control which devices can send through files to be printed.

In an enterprise environment, this could potentially pose an obstacle to printing for occasional on-site visitors —getting their phone or laptop authorised to print by IS isn't always going to be a quick task— but would seem to work well for in-house employees.

It was suggested to me that one way around this would be to have one printer in the office that doesn't use white or black lists, but then that returns the possibility of spam slipping through the cracks, email spam that actually costs money to receive.

The potential for spammers to get through is made a little more remote by the fact that the printer will automatically reject any email sent through with multiple email addresses, but then presumably that means that you couldn't send that important document through to your colleagues in San Francisco and Tokyo simultaneously either.

On the retrieval side, the hardware is set-up ready to be integrated with various pull-print swipe card security systems. Documents sent to the printer simply wait in the HP server until authorised to be printed.

Some of the enterprise-focused machines also allow watermarking of documents, though it only works on black and white source material and requires a separate toner for the watermark.

So how secure is the system from a spam perspective? There are several measures in place which should, in theory, keep most spam out, the cost of being secure comes at the expense of accessibility to some degree, particularly for occasional visitors.

Topic: Mobility

Ben Woods

About Ben Woods

With several years' experience covering everything in the world of telecoms and mobility, Ben's your man if it involves a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or any other piece of tech small enough to carry around with you.

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  • Given the ability of spammers to get through most anti-spam systems, I'd be a bit concerned that HP is trying to reinvent a rather wonky wheel - although I guess it could be using a commercial anti-spam system in the chain somewhere. Multiple e-mail address blocking is no barrier to spammers, and although HP also says that it detects and blocks duplicate emails, it's not so hard to generate loads of different emails that basically say the same thing.

    As soon as I get my hands on one of these printers, I'm certainly going to have a go at defeating the anti-spam (perfectly legally; you can't spam yourself). But I suspect others far more skilled in the art will already be having a pop.
    rupert.goodwins@...