Hacked printers produce anti-Semitic flyers on campus

The University of Oregon is investigating a hacking after it was part of a national incident that printed out anti-Semitic flyers to different universities, including Oregon State University, on March 25.

Five total printouts were reported, UO spokesman Tobin Klinger said. Klinger said the information security departments have worked with affected printers to to block those unauthorized print jobs since then. 

UO Chief Information Security Officer Will Laney said the notifications about the incident started to pour in Thursday, March 24 at noon from the College of Arts and Sciences, and then from athletics departments. By March 28, Laney said his department received 22 notifications on the incident.

“Racist printouts in printers,” one of the messages from an affected department read.

The flyers were received through network printer ports that were open to the Internet. It is reported that the same IP address has sent the racist fliers across the nation, Laney said. There are several solutions to prevent the hack, Laney said. One is to block the IP address that is responsible for the hack. Another is to change the default passwords in the printers.  

The message on these flyers was addressed to “white men” with a link to a neo-Nazi website. A pair of swastikas were also displayed on the page.

UOPD was notified to open an investigation to see if any university-affiliated individuals were being targeted.

A 30-year-old hacker, Andrew Auern­heimer (also known as Weev), claimed credit for the national hack the same day, the Washington Times reported. Auernheimer, who has been vocal about his racist beliefs on the Internet, was report­edly charged with fed­eral crimes for obtain­ing the per­sonal data of more than 100,000 iPad own­ers from AT&T’s pub­licly acces­si­ble web­site in 2014, according to the Ars Technica.

Back in July, UO was victimized with another printing hack by a hacker called “Le Pink.” The hacker put the targeted printers out of commission and wasted some paper and toner by printing ink-heavy images featuring the Muslim declaration of faith, the Shahada. Those printers were fixed quickly, and given “new, secure passwords.”  

Laney said the university is looking into changes with the way printers operate. A project is underway to install multifunction devices for printers, scanners and copiers to increase security.

“While we are relieved that the flier does not appear to have been generated inside the university, it is an important reminder that we can not and will not tolerate an act designed to make any member of our campus community feel unwelcome or threatened,” Klinger said in a statement.

The anti-Semitic fliers also appeared at a number of institutions including Princeton, Brown, University of Southern California and University of Rhode Island as they prepared for Holocaust Remembrance Week.

Dahlia Bazzaz also contributed reporting to this post. 

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Jennifer Fleck

Jennifer Fleck

Jennifer is a head correspondent for the Emerald focusing on politics and research. She also specializes in coverage of marijuana legalization in Oregon.