Campus moves to protect printers from unwanted messages

UC Davis is taking steps to shield printers on campus from unwanted messages sent from off-campus locations.

The gist of the change is that UC Davis will not allow campus printers open to the Internet to have access to the campus network, unless the printer is protected by a strong firewall, or has obtained an exception to this rule.

The vast majority of faculty, students and staff should not notice any difference in how they use UC Davis printers. Printer administrators who have questions or concerns are urged to contact Information and Educational Technology.

"We'll work with you to see if a printer needs an exception, or if there's something else we can do to help," said Chris Clements, manager of the Network Operations Center for IET.

On March 25, a white supremacist sent a hate-filled flier to printers at UC Davis and many other locations that have open connections to the Internet. Most campus printers did not receive the flier, because they are protected by a hardened firewall. Administrators of the relatively few unprotected printers are asked to correct the problem, and to work with IET if they have questions.

IET is sending details about the process to campus technologists. It will scan for on-campus printers that are exposed to the Internet, then contact administrators responsible for those printers and ask them either to protect the printer or to contact the Information Security Office within two business days. If second and third follow-up scans show the printer is still vulnerable, and the administrator has not asked for an exception, then IET will deactivate the campus network connection for that printer.

The first scans start this week. IET will conduct these scans weekly going forward, to prevent the emergence of additional, inadequately protected printers.

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