I’ve been thinking about printers at work today and have finally got round to requesting new toner cartridges for the ones that are running low. That reminded me of something else about printers and the information security side of my work, which I came across last term.
Contemporary artist Julian Oliver had unveiled his latest creation, Stealth Cell Tower. It looked like a chunky old HP printer. In fact, it was a fully functioning printer but Oliver had found space inside to put some electronics that function like a mobile phone mast. Therefore, the device also created a local cell and could interact with nearby mobile phones. It didn’t need to know their numbers but, because of the way phones interact with network nodes, it could engage someone in a text-based conversation and print out the results or call them up to play a tune. Yes, the Stevie Wonder hit referenced in my post title.
That is both cheesy and chilling. If you can use a printer as disguise, you can use anything. Furthermore, you don’t have to play with people, creating thought provoking art in the act of engagement; you could just intercept messages and send false replies. Being connected all the time raises the question to whom?