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Your Printer Is Spying On You?

Printers are undisputedly one of our best technological inventions. It makes our workflows seamless and hassle-free. Be it jet printers or superfast laser printers, in mere minutes you have hard copies in hand. Home printers made our lockdown lives a lot easier, BUT! Do you know, your printer that is sitting on your study table or work desk might be spying on you! Yes, you heard that right! But how’s that even possible? Let’s find out.




This technology’s concept might seem straight out of some Hollywood movies, but unfortunately, it’s not fictional but legit & applicable in real life. Some laser printers get added with a pattern of microdots that are yellow in appearance. But what’s fascinating about this web of dots on a printed paper is: these yellow dots are not visible to anyone with a naked eye. 



What’s The Tech Behind This?


Well, these yellow dots together make an identifiable pattern, and your printer’s model has a unique serial number. Using an EFF decoder tool the date & time of the printout produced can be easily identified, potentially leading all the tracks to you who made that printout. 



Can You Spot The Mysterious Dots?


These dots aren’t visible to the naked eye. The reason it’s hard to spot these yellow dots is because of their size. Each printed dot’s diameter is less than 1mm. These dots are printed in a rectangular pattern throughout a page. But for the curious minds, you can see these yellow dots with the help of a microscope or a blue light & a microscope glass. 



Who Invented This Spying Technology?



Allegedly, this printout’s tracking technology, nowadays, used by governments, organizations & institutions around the globe, goes back to Japan. Another name for this tech is “Steganography”. The motive behind developing this concept for printers was to avoid major forgery and build an offensive system to tackle counterfeiting. 

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