Toronto Mike

Macs Tell Users HP Printer Drivers are Malware, Resulting in Failed Print Jobs

A driver is a piece of software that allows application or hardware to engage with an operating system. Essentially, a legitimate driver is vital in ensuring that such computer accessories as game controllers, scanners, and printers can work with an operating system. Drivers sometimes cease working as a result of bugs, which means that users are left with hardware they’re unable to use until it’s fixed.

One particular case with HP printers and Macs is an odd one, as the primary reason may be a simple case of oversight and miscommunication. Of all the issues users could have with printers or ink and toner cartridges, this one was unexpected.

Because of how they delve deeply into the functions of the OS, drivers are often forced to experience a certification or security check for them to work. This is achieved on macOS using certificates signed with cryptography that tells macOS and its XProtect framework that the driver and its version are safe to run. With regards to the most recent XProtect update, however, HP’s printer drivers are no longer certified.

This change resulted in a great deal of concern and surprise among users. One of the issues was that they couldn’t even print. Users had to find out that their HP printer won't print black and white or colour printouts, in addition to receiving a warning that the driver is malware that could damage their Macs. Some users may have had concerns that HP may have been compromised. What actually happened was even stranger.

Failure to Warn Users

HP spoke to The Register when it said it requested that Apple revoke certificates of some older versions of its drivers. Neither Apple nor HP chose to warn users, with the action resulting in printers suddenly ceasing to work altogether, with an anonymous warning to boot. The drivers may have even been entirely secure.

Fortunately, this didn’t put an end to the relationship between Mac and HP’s printing business, as it seemed that only macOS 10.14 Mojave and macOS 10.15 Catalina were affected. HP is collaborating with Apple to restore the drivers. Users with urgent printing requirements can temporarily use AirPrint to print anything from their resume to Canadian war posters.

Similar Concerns Over Apple Music App

Similar problems were experienced with the Apple Music app. Attempts to open the app or even just use their Mac, resulted in a dialog box opening up. The box told users that malware is present, and that their Mac will be damaged. They were advised to move a specific file to the trash. That file was either the Amazon Music app or the HP printer driver “HP Device Monitoring.framework”. Users could either Cancel or select Move to Trash. If they chose the former option, however, the error would continue to occur.

The issue initially seemed to be related to Apple’s own XProtect, which is part of Apple’s security system Gatekeeper that identifies and disables malware found on Macs. The majority of incidents reported came from consumers, although printing in enterprise was also affected.

Warning Resolved by Behind-the-Scenes Update

Most affected users reported that they hadn’t recently updated their Amazon Music app or HP printer drivers. So, it was assumed that it was related to a behind-the-scenes update of macOS malware definitions.

The theory around XProtect appeared to be correct, although it was caused specifically by HP's request to Apple to revoke the drivers. It was unknown as to why this request was made, but HP reportedly told The Register that the issues were unintentional.

Author image
About Toronto Mike
I own TMDS and host Toronto MIke'd. Become a Patron.