Hackers Are Spamming Receipt Printers with Pro Labor Messages

In an effort to accelerate the great resignation, hackers are sending messages to workers via exploits in receipt printers.
Duncan Lambden

There have been multiple reported instances of employees finding strange receipts coming out of their printers. Upon closer inspection, these receipts are revealed to be antiwork manifestos, encouraging people to strike, push for better wages, or leave their jobs.

This is a fairly easy trick to pull. Printer Wi-Fi systems are notoriously easy to break into, even if they're password locked, and some businesses don't even bother to do that much.

Obviously, this is mostly targeting hospitality and retail businesses, as those businesses typically carry multiple receipt machines. These businesses aren't typically equipped with the most sophisticated cybersecurity systems, like VPNs, so they're particularly susceptible to these types of incidents.

How and why are hackers spamming receipt printers?

Hackers have been infiltrating receipt printers and using them to print something akin to an abridged manifesto, intending for minimum wage workers to see the message and feel implored to look into unionizing, pushing for better wages, or quitting entirely.

“TIME IS YOUR MOST VALUABLE ASSET. Not only can you never obtain any more of it, you do not even know how much you have to begin with. Why are you selling YOUR TIME for SO LITTLE?” reads one of the receipts.

This is being done by people infiltrating the relatively weak defenses of receipt printers, or printers in general. This is by no means the first time this has happened, as printers are often used to commit practical jokes. However, this is less of a joke, and more of an effort to start a social movement.

The motivation for these incidents is a pro-labor stance that has been brewing amongst the working class for quite a while, spurred on heavily by the COVID-19 pandemic. This new mentality, known as “antiwork,” is about pushing back against the work-focused lifestyle that has been ingrained in society for decades in order to take back ownership of your own life.

What is “Antiwork” about?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a mass exodus from the American workforce. After seeing how little some companies cared about their workers' wellbeing, many felt justified in just getting up and walking out of their jobs. This is why a lot of the discourse around work has been flooded with the phrase “nobody wants to work anymore.” Enter the “antiwork” subreddit, a community of over 1.2 million online users who share stories of their horrible bosses and their reasons for quitting their jobs.

 “Antiwork is about embracing a work-free lifestyle and finding community in pushing back against exploitative working conditions,” says Antiwork's mission statement.

Whether it's stagnant wages, poor management, or general ennui, the antiwork sentiment has begun to take a decent foothold in the social conversation. A good example being a recent John Deere strike that seemingly reached a positive conclusion, despite John Deere pulling some devious tactics like cancelling healthcare for workers.

There is doubt whether these receipt messages are real, or whether they're just printed by bored employees looking for internet clout. But even if that's the case, the sentiment is still stirring online and among employees, meaning that antiwork may soon hit considerable heights.

How to Protect Your Business's Wi-Fi

Despite the positive messaging of these receipt notes, any businesses that are being “hit” by these receipts have, in essence, received a soft warning that their systems are unprotected. These messages are pretty harmless (outside of using up ink and paper), so if you're going to get a notice that your connection is not secure, this is what you'd want.

If you're worried about your business's Wi-Fi being breached or attacked, there are two great courses of action you can take in order to protect yourself. Firstly, getting a VPN can help you protect your business's Wi-Fi system by masking your IP address and making it much harder to penetrate.

Secondly, getting antivirus software is an easy way to stop unwanted guests from accessing your systems. Whether these are passive phishing efforts, or active, more aggressive viruses, antivirus software will be able to stop a wealth of nasty infiltrations.

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Duncan (BA in English Textual Studies and Game Design) is an Australian-born writer for Tech.Co. His articles focus on website builders, and business software that allows small businesses to improve their efficiency or reach, with an emphasis on digital marketing or accounting. He has written for Website Builder Expert and MarTech Series, and has been featured in Forbes. In his free time, Duncan loves to deconstruct video games, which means that his loved ones are keenly concerned about the amount of time he spends looking at screens.

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