It seems that company printers around the world are being taken over by hackers to produce ‘anti-work’ slogans on business receipts.
According to posts on Twitter and Reddit, dozens of printers are printing manifestos encouraging workers to discuss their pay with coworkers and demand better of their employers.
On Tuesday, a Reddit user shared a picture of a receipt printed with the manifesto asking ‘ARE YOU BEING UNDERPAID?’
‘You have a protected LEGAL RIGHT to discuss your pay with your coworkers. […] POVERTY WAGES only exist because people are ‘willing’ to work for them,’ said the receipts.
The posts were made on the r/Antiwork subreddit which describes itself as a community ‘for those who want to end work, are curious about ending work, want to get the most out of a work-free life, want more information on anti-work ideas and want personal help with their own jobs/work-related struggles’.
‘Which one of you is doing this because it’s hilarious. Me and my co-workers need answers,’ wrote one user.
The printed receipts encouraged its readers to form unions.
‘How can the McDonald’s in Denmark pay their staff $22 an hour and still manage to sell a Big Mac for less than in America?’ asked one receipt.
The answer according to the printers was ‘Unions’, claiming the unions could ‘easily align everyone’s goals’.
Similar posts on the r/Antiwork subreddit show that multiple printers have been hacked and were printing the same manifesto. Some of them had different messages but outlines similar sentiments of empowering workers.
The receipts include a link to the r/Antiwork subreddit which has exploded in size and over the last several months as workers began to demand their worth and organize against abusive workplaces.
‘Stop using my receipt printer dudes. Although hilarious, I’d like it to stop,’ complained one Reddit user.
‘I’ve received about 4 different messages at random times over the last week at work. Very inspiring, encouraging, and fun to see my bosses face when he has to rip them off the printer,’ said another one.
Some people on Reddit have suggested that the messages are fake printouts by people with access to a receipt printer.
Users believe it’s possible that this is being done as part of a conspiracy to make it seem like the r/antiwork subreddit is doing something illegal or it could just be an internet stunt for laughs.
Andrew Morris, a cybersecurity expert confirmed to Motherboard that print requests for a document containing workers rights messaging were being broadcast to printers that are misconfigured to be exposed to the internet and that it’s been successful in a number of places.
According to Shodan, a tool that scans the internet for insecure computers, servers, and other devices, ‘thousands of printers are exposed’. Morris added that the exact number of compromised printers would be difficult to confirm.
Morris who is also the founder of GreyNoise, a cybersecurity firm that monitors the internet, said his firm has seen actual network traffic going to insecure receipt printers and that ‘someone or multiple people are sending these printing jobs all over the internet indiscriminately as if spraying or blasting them all over’. Morris has a history of catching hackers exploiting insecure printers.
This makes every single device that has port TCP 9100 open vulnerable to printing a pre-written document that references the r/Antiwork subreddit with some workers rights and counter-capitalist messaging.
‘The person or people behind this are distributing the mass-print from 25 separate servers so blocking one IP isn’t enough,’ said Morris, calling it an ‘intelligent’ move.
The attacks seem to be targeted at American printers with one of the users posting a receipt from Maine, USA.
It’s not the first time that hackers have targeted insecure printers. A few years ago, a hacker made printers print out promotions for the YouTube channel of the controversial influencer PewDiePie.
‘Love r/antiwork but please stop spamming my receipt printer,’ said one of the Reddit posts, suggesting that not all workers might be completely on board with the stunt.