Hackers aren’t just posting spammy-looking Facebook comments in support of their favorite YouTuber anymore.
It’s come to this: A YouTube subscription rivalry has resulted in not one, but two recent incidents of mass security breaches, resulting in the hacking of thousands of printers worldwide.
According to TechRadar, both incidents involved hacking thousands of printers to print messages asking people to subscribe to the PewDiePie’s already-popular YouTube channel.
Both hacking incidents were caused by enthusiastic PewDiePie fans in an attempt to garner more subscribers for their favorite vlogger. PewDiePie (Felix Kjellberg) is in competition with another YouTube channel, T-Series — a source of Bollywood music videos — to remain the YouTube account with the most subscribers. PewDiePie has around 66 million subscribers while T-Series sits a bit above 63 million.
As noted by Wired UK, the first incident occurred on November 28, hacked 50,000 printers and came from a hacker identified only by their Twitter handle: @HackerGiraffe. The printers affected during this hacking incident printed out messages requesting that the recipients mainly unsubscribe from T-Series and subscribe to PewDiePie.
— Dr.Moxmo (@Dr_Moxmo) November 29, 2018
The second hacking incident, which occurred a little over a week into December, came from two American hackers who use the Twitter handle, @j3ws3r. This attempt affected 80,000 printers and resulted in the printing of messages similar to the first hacking incident with a few other requests added, like requesting the recipients delete TikTok, a popular short video app.
But despite how silly and prank-like the situation sounds, increasing the number of PewDiePie’s followers wasn’t the only purpose of either hack.
The hackers responsible for both incidents have said that their actions weren’t just to support PewDiePie. In fact, the hackers behind the most recent hack, spoke to Wired UK and mentioned a desire to warn people about their vulnerable, unsecured devices: “From our perspective, how else were we supposed to warn people about this?”
The Verge also spoke to the hacker responsible for the original PewDiePie printer hacking incident (@HackerGiraffe) and was able to shed a little more light on the reasoning behind the hackers’ security warning:
“People underestimate how easy a malicious hacker could have used a vulnerability like this to cause major havoc … Hackers could have stolen files, installed malware, caused physical damage to the printers and even use the printer as a foothold into the inner network.”