HP Web JetAdmin

by Wayne Maples [Published on 20 April 2004 / Last Updated on 20 April 2004]

Administrating a large number of printers, particularly remote printers, can be a real pain in a Windows NT or Windows 2000 environment. My experience is primarily with HP's jetdirects. The jetdirect allows one to plug a printer into the jetdirect and print to the printer, HP printer or whatever. The jetdirect comes as a separate interface or is built into the HP network printers.

If you have a lot of remote printers, HP Web JetAdmin allows an administrator to manage a hell of a lot of printers. A must if you you have HP printers. You install JetAdmin on a webserver of your choice and administrate from any browser. The JetAdmin main page is found here.

There is a dark side of this ease of administration. With putzes writing viruses and running denial of service programs, you must implement some security. HP network printers come with a built in web interface. You must set the administrator password. This will prevent any tom, dick or harry from using a port scanner to find these web interfaces on your printers and twiddling with settings, taking the printer off/on line, setting the admin password to one you don't know, ... Realize that these kind of web interfaces for remote admin are already there in network printers and other network devices. Whether you want to use JetAdmin, you still need to secure the network devices with web interfaces.

There have been two security issues reported for JetAdmin. There is a denial of service which prevents the admin from getting into the JetAdmin site for Web JetAdmin 6.0 on all supported platforms including Windows, HPUX, Linux, Solaris and NetWare. Minor problem. Stop, then restart the JetAdmin service and you are back in. Remember you can stop/stop services remotely. This denial of service only effects JetAdmin access. Doesn't do anything to ability to print.

JetAdmin 5.6 has bug which allows access to any file on the webserver running JetAdmin. A good reason to upgrade to version 6. This kind of exploit is not unique to this HP product. If you are in a security conscious organization, you know that Compaq's server remote admin had a similar bug, and that Microsoft's IIS seems to have one of these exploits reported frequently. I would recommend using JetAdmin, but like all powerful tools, you need to be aware of the dark side of such tools.

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