It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.

 

Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.

 

Your Printer Could Be Spying On You. No, Really.

page: 1
8

log in

join
share:

posted on Apr, 4 2015 @ 11:01 AM
link   
It's well known by many people who have even a passing concern for privacy that many electronic document types contain "hidden" information that can be accessed for forensic traceability. Depending on the file format, the sensitive information contained within a file's metadata could include things like the author's name, timestamps and geolocation data. Forensics Wiki has a short list of just some of the many metadata extraction tools for popular document types (MS Office, PDF, JPEG, etc).

While the above won't be much of a revelation to the tech savvy users among us, how many are familiar with "Printer Dots?" Though the existence of the dots was first exposed over a decade a go, surprisingly few.

Excerpted from the EFF (Electronic Frontiers Foundation) website, pages located here (main issue page) and here:


Imagine that every time you printed a document it automatically included a secret code that could be used to identify the printer - and potentially the person who used it. Sounds like something from an episode of "Alias " right?

Unfortunately the scenario isn't fictional. In a purported effort to identify counterfeiters the US government has succeeded in persuading some color laser printer manufacturers to encode each page with identifying information. That means that without your knowledge or consent an act you assume is private could become public. A communication tool you're using in everyday life could become a tool for government surveillance. And what's worse there are no laws to prevent abuse.

Since late 2004, EFF has been warning the public about "printer dots" -- tiny yellow dots that appear on documents produced by many color laser printers and copiers. These yellow dots form a coded pattern on every page the printer produces and can be used to identify specific details about a document; for example, the brand, model, and serial number of the device that printed it and when it was printed. In short, the printer dots are a surveillance tool that can link each printed page to the printer that printed it.


What do these dots look like and what information might they contain? From EFF - DocuColor Tracking Dot Decoding Guide:

Even at 10x magnification, the dots are nearly invisible.

At 60x magnification, the stealthy little bastards are easily recognizable.

Dots from Xerox DocuColor decoded

So what can a person do to avoid this insidious violation of privacy?

Unfortunately, by their nature the dots are not meant to be disabled but you may have some recourse in contacting the manufacturer. The Computer Counter Culture Club of the MIT Media Lab has a website, seeingyellow.com, with tips, a list of many affected devices and manufacturer contact information. The EFF also maintains a list of printers which do and do not generate dots.

If you're concerned that your laser printer or copier may be a model that does generate the dots, my advice would be to not register it until you're sure. Once it's registered, you could easily be identified by the device's serial number and there may be no way to disable the dots.
edit on 2015-4-4 by theantediluvian because: (no reason given)




posted on Apr, 4 2015 @ 11:10 AM
link   
I'm laughing ...



posted on Apr, 4 2015 @ 11:25 AM
link   

originally posted by: WatchingY0u
I'm laughing ...


Don't, it's true.

I posted about this on ATS years ago, here:

Laser Printers Secretly Spy On You



posted on Apr, 4 2015 @ 11:28 AM
link   
a reply to: WatchingY0u

Great, another thing for me to worry about


I was not aware of the 'dots', but I have considered the possibility of being monitored because my printer is 'connected' and auto updates. For as much use as my printer gets it is not high on my conspiracy list concerns.

I do find the topic of coded dots interesting though, thanks for the heads up.



posted on Apr, 4 2015 @ 11:31 AM
link   

originally posted by: WatchingY0u
I'm laughing ...


Is that from a form of Tourette's? Or did you find that response witty and edgy concerning the OP?

I would be curious to hear why you found the OP 'funny'.



posted on Apr, 4 2015 @ 11:36 AM
link   
I got a laptop with a mic and a camera, a smartphone with that + gps but i will really be worried about my printer now

By the other hand i will be more careful the next time i print a death threat
edit on 4-4-2015 by Indigent because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 4 2015 @ 11:36 AM
link   

originally posted by: nerbot

originally posted by: WatchingY0u
I'm laughing ...


Don't, it's true.

I posted about this on ATS years ago, here:

Laser Printers Secretly Spy On You
II'm not laughing because I think its all made up. I am laughing because they have even more sophisticated methods of tracking and spying.
HA!
edit on 4-4-2015 by WatchingY0u because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 4 2015 @ 11:41 AM
link   
a reply to: WatchingY0u

Thanks for clarifying.

2nd line.



posted on Apr, 4 2015 @ 12:28 PM
link   
a reply to: theantediluvian

Former NSA worker here:

Your printer, your television, your computer monitor, your cell phone, your cable tv box, your game machine, your coffee maker (Keurig), even your low energy bulbs - all have built in networking capabilities via cheap bluetooth and wireless connections. What's that PC board with an oscillator doing inside a perfectly good lightbulb you ask?

Duh.

Take apart a coffee maker and you'll even see a series of transistors and PC board attached directly the AC outlet.

What's this for you ask? Ad-Hoc networks created via AC.

Look. I'm going to burst your bubble here. Who you're screwing. What you're sniffing up your nose in your bathroom. Who you're sending flame mail to. Does effect others. But do those overseeing this information really give a rats ass about what you do? The answer is - not only no, but heck no.

The fact of the matter is - information is money in today's day and age. Demographically, this country's been doing a #poor job from things like censuses, to keeping our own citizens safe from things that are frankly too bizarre to even get into here. I could tell you. And historically, it's always dismissed as fiction, so it simply does not behoove the intelligence agencies to tell you what they are keeping you safe from - because you wouldn't believe it until it happened to you and by then it's too late.

You think you can handle the truth? ATS contains the fluff. I mean. If you were making a cake. It would be the the sash of salt that you had in an otherwise much more complicated recipe. I'm starting to release some of this information, so if you're inclined, follow me, hold your judgment, and take the time to understand just how downright weird reality can be at times.

This is not to say the spy agencies are saints, and they have absolutely learned to back off when necessary - I was one such person they had to back off of (I was in the same class as Snowden).

but let's be clear. Pretty much any modern appliance - anything you plug in for that matter - passively monitors - each in very different ways. You're information hungry, and these products are nothing more than a reflection of your own mind.

What is this information used for? anonymous marketing, mainly, The census was deemed an utter failure by Reagan, who put plans in place to replace it with a transparent infrastructure that passively assist the intelligence community and related businesses to understanding trends - and (especially) manage dangerous trends - such as drugs - before they become too much of a pervasive problem. That's being totally sincere.

In any case. To your post. Most printers have wifi, and actually have hard drive storage. with this, they not only passively monitor your network - but they work on a store and forward method. They also capture and pass on information concerning forgery attempts (ie: currency), and whatever dynamically whatever else the intelligence agencies have 'tagged' as something that needs to be kept an eye on. Forgery of legal documentation is a BIG current one that's being monitored at the printer and computer based level - at the behest of lawyers - because they simply got tired of identity theft and their name being used on fake documents - especially cease and desist documentation.

The 'system' is an infrastructure - an interconnected web if you will - that is not there to cause you harm. It's there to make sure you can live your life by your own choices. Now if you are a law abiding citizen - heck - even if you're not in most cases - they quite frankly don't care.

Just remember - this is mainly about information, not only to keep the infrastructure humming along - but to also perpetuate the NSA, CORP - and anonymous demographical information sells.

it's for that last reason is why I quit working with the NSA.

I did NOT feel it was their right to invasively leverage the mechanisms in place to capitalize on their own citizens - WITHOUT at least some concessions - such as - returning a portion of the revenue being generated to those citizens they were generated on.

Needless to say. My protests saw me being blacklisted. Which - because of the nature of what I did - I was peaceful after all, I was informed late last year - two years after the fact - that it was turned into a white list. Whatever the hell that means.



posted on Apr, 4 2015 @ 12:35 PM
link   
I believe a lot of image manipulation software does something similar. And we should know by now that many other forms of software & hardware place coordinates & other data in the files they generate. The time stamps & GPS coordinates for photos & videos can be input into software to map out the person's movements. Then they cross reference that info with basic cell phone tracking (and credit card purchases) to figure out a person's entire schedule.

So this issue with laser printers should be very plausible & is just one piece in the puzzle.



posted on Apr, 4 2015 @ 12:36 PM
link   
Project DNA eh?



posted on Apr, 4 2015 @ 10:23 PM
link   
I heard about this a few years ago, and it's absolutely true. With a blacklight and a magnifying glass, you can easily see the patterns. I've heard that a lot of printers have ditched the yellow dots in favor of various other means, but I don't know how true that may be.



posted on Apr, 5 2015 @ 07:21 AM
link   
a reply to: theantediluvian

And I thought I knew it all

S&f



new topics

top topics



 
8

log in

join