HP's CEO stokes fear of cheap ink

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2024/01/30/hps-ceo-stokes-fear-of-cheap-ink.html


Cheap ink!!! The HORRORS!!! /s

Scared Saturday Night Live GIF by HULU


Does anyone stateside have a reliable source for high-quality cheap color toner for an HP Laserjet? Unfortunately the last few cartridges I’ve purchased do not deliver good prints.


HP: We’re going to slap DRM chips on cartridges, which cost more to produce than the colored solvent we fill them with .

Also HP: We’re bricking your printer to protect you from this fantastic attack vector that no one takes seriously and wouldn’t even be remotely plausible if we didn’t put fucking DRM chips on our cartridges


When my previous HP Envy printer used up it’s most recently purchased cartridges, I finally picked up a Brother Ecotank model which is performing well right out of the box. Better print quality, painless connection to my wifi, and supplied with enough ink for a long, long time before I have to buy more.


And why did you make your printers so that they execute stuff from ink cartridges?

Anything on the cartridge should be data that gets sanitized, right…?


Any chip in an ink cartridge only needs to say ‘Hi!’ to the printer itself, and perhaps tell it the amount of ink left over.

Or, and going out on a limb here, maybe they don’t need chips at all.


In My Arrogant Opinion, the only thing on the ID chips for the print cartridges should be a unique serial number and maybe an indicator of what color ink/toner is contained in the thing, because that’s all it needs. Anything else would be stupid and complicate an already complicated device even more. (The tricks some of those things do with paper handling borders on genius or insanity, take your pick.)

Yes, let’s write a virus that sits in the 6 bytes of space that the chip has, in order to take over your printer and make it spew COMMUNIST PROPEGANDA and upload a copy of your printed documents to the NSA for - oh wait the printer drivers already do that? /excessive sarcasm

Has anyone hooked up a generator to Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard? I reckon they are spinning in their graves fast enough to generate rather a lot of electricity…


Mr. Lores, we are in your debt for selflessly being the thin cyan, yellow, magenta, and black line between peaceful, productive printing and viral chaos. Thank you.*
*I assume this goes without saying, but /s


actually, they did not use the chip, they did use the serial chip reader interface to overflow the computer (because it was “expecting 6 bytes” and we sent 64k).

For the attack vector to work as the engineers described, you should specifically craft a cartridge with a microcontroller able to trigger the buffer overflow, then a payload written in the same language as the processor in the printer uses.

So, as someone pointed in other places… This is not something you do randomly on your free time. This complexity level only makes sense for “state actors” level of hacking… and those would probably disguise the cartridge as a commercial one.


There are ink tank printers now, we have been using an Epson for nearly 3 years. HP have those too. And the ink can be get from 3rd parties as well, but it is very affordable even when it is coming from the manufacturer itself. There is no way to add chips or DRM in those at the moment, it is just pure liquid ink in a bottle that goes into a tank (maybe in the future with nanobots!).

The drawback is that I have to keep an eye at the ink level, at least my printer doesn’t tell by driver how depleted it is, but it still takes months for the ink to deplete.


So the only party with the money to pull that off who would then disguise it as a third party cartridge may be HP?


In other words: we’re bricking your printer to protect you from viruses which might…wait for it…brick your printer.


“We have seen that you can embed viruses in the cartridges. Through the cartridge, [the virus can] go to the printer, [and then] from the printer, go to the network.”

He seems to have gone full Bill Gates, 5G, anti-virus bonkers.


Yeah, HP used to be a good company. It was run by engineers making products for engineers. That all ended when Carly was hired.

Ah yes, the blame the woman thesis… a classic… sadly for that thesis, she came in when the company was already moving away from its core belief in good products over short term quarterly gains…

Like much else, you can lay this at the feet of the neo-liberal turn in the 1970s and 1980s, more than on any one CEO. I doubt her sales-focused ideology helped, but she didn’t usher in the whole concept of short term gains over good engineering single-handedly. That mindset goes hand in hand with the emergence of silicon valley as a tech-business juggernaut more generally…


the software that comes with the printer is the virus.


Then there should have been a limit test for 6 bytes. :roll_eyes:

They’re probably spinning fast enough to warp space-time.


HP CEO Enrique Lores

He was hired to replace CEO Enrique HiRes to save money.



I heard either Hewlett or Packard (don’t remember which) give a graduation speech back in the mid 80s, and he struck me then as a money grubbing asshole, talking about the potential brilliance of the graduating MIT class as a potential for people like him to make lots of money, as opposed to making the world a better place. So I think the assholeness was baked in from the start.