Computer and mobile device users are getting used to malware and ransomware attacks as of late. Criminals hijack devices and computer networks whenever they can in the hopes of extracting money from their victims. One Reddit user experienced something rather strange, as the office fax machine is being held hostage until a bitcoin payment is made. Quite an unusual situation, that much is certain.
An Awkward Office Fax Situation
Office workers often have to deal with printers that may or may not cooperate. In most cases, hitting the machine or performing some magic combination on the keypad can solve a lot of problems. However, in this case, things are a bit different, as the office fax machine is flooded with printing requests until a bitcoin payment is made All of these faxes come in during the night and are printed out accordingly.
Spamming a fax machine with printing requests is a very unusual tactic among criminals. The most obvious approach would be to ensure no one can print from it until a bitcoin payment is made. In this day and age of extortion, however, creative schemes are often more rewarding. With criminals demanding a bitcoin payment in exchange for no longer spamming the fax with printing requests, they have created a rather unusual, yet potentially lucrative business model.
Fixing such a problem can be rather difficult, as it is impossible to no longer let the fax machine print anything at all. Companies still receive a high amount of legitimate faxes every single day, most of which need to be printed out and classified. However, this “spam campaign” seems to target the fax machine during the night, resulting in hundreds of pages being printed out. Not only is this a huge waste of toner and paper, but it also disrupts the flow of business. It is unclear how much the “criminals” are asking to halt their attack, though.
Relying on law enforcement will not be a big help in this regard either. The number from which these faxes are sent is hidden, although it is likely some online service is being abused for this specific purpose. One option is to negotiate with the people responsible for this stream of useless faxes and hopefully come to some form of an agreement. Paying the bitcoin demand is not a viable solution unless there is no other option.
One Reddit user suggested the company should switch to cloud-based fax systems instead. This concept has a lot of merit, as these service providers let users view all pages they receive and only print out the ones approved. It avoids clutter, even though it brings a small extra cost to the table. Then again, being targeted by someone abusing your fax machine at the office is not acceptable and a solution needs to be found.
It is evident criminals will target any technology they can possible abuse in exchange for a payday. Rather than infecting computer networks and going through a lot of trouble, spamming fax numbers is a much easier and cheaper solution. Since most companies publicly list their numbers, it only takes a Google search to find out the information one needs. Companies need to switch to cloud-based faxing services to avoid these problems, otherwise, they risk getting targeted by criminals more often in the future.
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