Does my printer really need an email address?

By on November 10, 2010
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Imagine the field day that a spammer will have if they manage to get the email address of your printer.

I must say that I was quite excited when I first heard HP talking about printers having an email address. For one thing, you wont have to worry about the right drivers for the right printer being installed in every machine that you just want to get a quick printout from. On top of that, it would allow you to send a print request from any part of the world and get a printout. It definitely got the geek in me excited.

But then I thought a bit more about it and now, I don’t really think it’s that great of an idea. For one thing, I’ve never sent a document to be printed if I wasn’t next to the printer to pick it up and take with me. So my geek dream of sending something from across the world is great in theory but one that would probably never be practiced.

The second and more important thing is the security aspect of it. Imagine the field day that a spammer will have if they manage to get the email address of the printer. Now, in HP’s defense, there are a couple of things they’ve done to prevent someone from doing just that. First, you have a string of really complicated characters as your email address that can be updated on a daily basis so it’s a bit like changing your Wi-Fi password everyday. Not very convenient.

The second and more reasonable option is to set a specific set of email addresses that the printer will accept email from and print. Sounds great but I can bet that over 90% of the people that will buy an email enabled printer won’t bother to set this up or even change the default address.

What we need is something that is convenient and secure. For convenience, we need something that works wirelessly and doesn’t require any drivers. For security, it should only work when we are in proximity of the printer and not necessarily from around the world.

Yes, I know that kind of technology already exists. It’s called AirPrint and Apple is rolling it out in the next update to the iPhone and iPad. Go ahead- call me a fanboy.


About

Abbas Jaffar Ali is the founder of tbreak.com and a blogger, geek and self-declared tech pundit who can't stop talking about technology. Find him on twitter as @ajaffarali

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  • Asim

    Departments and floors can share a nice heavy duty printer and installing drivers on each machine is a problem.

    About security, we need to look for some sort of ACL. Allowing trusted users (like emails coming from company addresses) to send emails only. Even if the printer does not have an ACL, some similar control can be implemented through the company email server.

    Apart from that limits can be implemented to minimize risks even from trusted users.

    Of course, the more features you give the more complex is the security implementations. In almost all IT devices.

    • Abbas Jaffar Ali

      Thats a great example of its usefulness. Another good idea is to use in a hotel where the staff can change the email ID every day and give its occupants the email ID to print anything they want without much hassle.

      However, my argument is purely for the home user- not the corporate or the business traveller. For them, something like AirPrint makes a lot more sense

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  • Anonymous

    It is very well system of printer email address. Because by using this system you can give print to your printer from any place of world.So it will attach you with your printer.

  • Anonymous

    It is very well system of printer email address. Because by using this system you can give print to your printer from any place of world.So it will attach you with your printer.

  • Anonymous

    Yes ,the printer really needs an email address,because by using this system, we can give print to our printers  all over the world.

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