I’ve had the unusual opportunity to get several used, late 2000s HP printers for use at work. Normally we get these new, fresh out of the box, and they’re maintained from that point. This has led to some interesting issues with firmware updates.
Anyone familiar with updates to firmware on HP printers made in the last decade knows that there are several ways to do these. The first is to install the printer locally on a Windows computer and run the updater program against this installed device. This works, and works well, but only if the firmware on the device supports it. Second is to use a built-in updater located on the printer’s web server, which is a feature on the higher-end Enterprise devices. Third is via FTP. Yeah, FTP.
After installing the printer as a local device, I have seen situations where the installer program will not work with a network printer object, whether it’s WSD or a TCP mapping. Usually this is resolved by plugging a device directly in to the printer, installing the local version, then running the program.
When this doesn’t work, however, FTP is still an option. It’s simple, and easy, but also a bit scary because this port is open by default, has no username or password, and allows a binary transfer directly to the devices. Even after a firmware update to a version less than 18 months old, this port remains open.
This works, and gets around the frustrating update process that most end users would use, but hey, at least isn’t not TFTP.