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Spooling in Cyber Security: What Is It—and How Do You Prevent It?

October 21, 2022
Inkit Team

Spooling is a term used in networking and computer systems to describe the process of saving data temporarily, often so that it can be processed in bulk at a later time. 

By temporarily holding data, it allows the CPU to remain in the execution phase for longer, until the instructions transmitted over a network are executed. 

This process is commonly implemented in typical input/output devices like the printer, mouse, and keyboard. 

Because spooling runs on computer systems over a network, it makes an easy target for hacking—most notably via an attack vector known as spooling attack

The aim of these attacks? To exploit vulnerabilities in a system and steal data, putting your company in jeopardy. 

In this article, our aim is to help you understand in detail the concept of spooling in cybersecurity. Among others, we’ll cover the following:

  • What is spooling and how does it work?
  • Spooling attack: 5 similar cyber security threats
  • 5 ways to prevent spooling cyber attacks
  • Safely managing document generation and automation with inkit

What Is Spooling and How Does It Work?

Overview: Spooling in cyber security

The word SPOOL is an acronym standing for simultaneous peripheral operations on-line. As mentioned earlier, it is a buffering mechanism that stores data to be used and executed by a device, program, or system. This buffering mechanism allows for multiple operations to take place at the same time, which can improve system performance. 

Spooling can be used for a variety of purposes, such as storing data so that it can be transmitted over a network or keeping track of tasks that need to be completed. In some cases, spooling is used to improve performance by allowing a slow device, such as a printer, to catch up to a faster one.

How spooling works 

Spooling is a process that can be used for either input or output operations. When data is sent to a printer, for example, it is first stored in a buffer (or spool) before it is printed. This allows the system to continue processing other tasks while the printer is busy printing the data. 

Similarly, when data is sent to a storage device, it can be stored in a buffer before it is actually written to the device. This can improve performance by allowing the system to write the data in larger chunks, rather than writing it one byte at a time. 

Spooling can also be used for input operations. For example, when a user types data into a computer, it is first stored in a buffer before it is processed by the system. This allows the system to process other tasks while the user is still typing.

Spooling as an attack

Due to the nature of spooling and its ability to improve performance, it can also be used as a form of attack.

Spooling security risk, or spooling attack, is a type of denial of service (DoS) attack that can overload a system by flooding it with too much data. This type of attack can be difficult to detect because it may appear to be legitimate traffic. As a result, it can cause significant damage to a system, resulting in data loss or corruption. 

Understanding how spooling works and how to configure your system can go a long way to help you thwart these online threats. 

But before we dive into how you can prevent spooling attacks, let's look at other similar cyber security threats and attacks that could potentially wreak havoc on your business. 

Spooling Attack: 5 Similar Cyber Security Threats

Spooling security risk is not the only way fraudsters can breach a system. 

Here are other threats that attackers can use to perform malicious actions: 

Spoofing

Spoofing is a type of attack that can be used to gain access to a system or to steal information. It involves sending fake or incorrect information to a system in order to deceive it into thinking that the information is legitimate. This can allow an attacker to bypass security measures or gain access to sensitive data.

Some types of spoofing attacks include caller ID spoofing, website spoofing, email spoofing, IP spoofing, and text message spoofing. 

Phishing

Phishing is a type of cyber attack that uses fraudulent emails or messages to obtain personal information, such as passwords or credit card numbers, from unsuspecting users. These emails or messages often appear to be from legitimate sources, such as banks or credit card companies and may include forged logos or other official-looking elements.

Whaling

Whaling is a type of phishing attack that specifically targets high-level executives and other individuals in positions of power within an organization. Whaling attacks are often successful because they use social engineering techniques to lure the target into opening an email or clicking on a link.

The goal of a whaling attack is to obtain confidential information or gain access to sensitive systems.

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Tailgating

Tailgating is a security term that refers to the act of following someone through a door that has been propped open, without authorization. This type of attack can be used to gain access to secure areas or systems, or to steal information or data. 

While spooling is a type of tailgating attack, the difference is that spooling specifically targets printers and other output devices where the attacker collects the printed documents and uses them to gain unauthorized access to systems or data.

Cloning

Cloning in cyber security is the process of replicating files or objects in a system to make multiple copies of them. This can be done for backup purposes or to increase performance by distributing the load across multiple systems.

Cloning can also be used for malicious purposes, such as creating multiple fake login credentials to attack an organization or spreading malware.

5 Ways to Prevent Spooling Cyber Attacks

If you suspect that your machine is being attacked through spooling, there are a few things you can do to prevent this type of attack:

#1. Train your staff on how to prevent spooling attacks

Employees are usually gateways through which fraudsters use to access data.

You can prevent spooling attacks by ensuring that your staff is aware of the different types of cyberattacks and how to protect against them. 

Staff should be trained on how to identify suspicious emails, links, and attachments, and how to respond if they believe they have been targeted by a spooling attack.

#2. Use separate disk partitions for different functions on your machine

One way to prevent spooling attacks is to use separate disk partitions for different functions on your machine (like system files and user files). 

This will help to ensure that each function has its own dedicated space and that an attacker cannot fill up the disk space for another function by sending a large number of requests to the machine.

#3. Use network monitoring tools to detect malicious requests and filter them out

This is an old trick in the book. The idea is to use network monitoring tools to detect malicious requests and filter them out before they reach your machine.

It helps protect users from a spooling attack since it allows them to detect and block any suspicious behavior quickly. This way, you are always one step ahead of your hackers and you can ensure that your system is only used for legitimate reasons.

#4. Use a firewall

A firewall is a software or hardware barrier that is placed between your computer and the Internet, or between different parts of your network. It can be used to block traffic from certain unknown sources or to allow only specific types of traffic through.

This will help to ensure that only trusted users and systems are able to connect to your machine, making it more difficult for an attacker to carry out a successful spooling attack.

If you are using a firewall, make sure that it is properly configured to help protect your computer from spooling attacks. You should also keep your firewall up to date with the latest security updates to help ensure that it can provide the best possible protection for your system.

In addition to using a firewall, you can also use Anti-virus and anti-spyware software for extra security.

5. Set up safe user roles and management to restrict access

You can set up safe user roles and management to restrict access in order to prevent spooling attacks. By doing that, you limit the number of people or employees who can access sensitive information, ensuring only authorized users can access your data.  

Setting up safe user roles and management is key to data security because it'll not only help detect the source of spooling attacks, but it'll also help reduce risks of data leakage.

To know more about how to set up user roles in security management, be sure to check us out here

Safely Managing Document Generation and Automation With Inkit

The digital world is becoming increasingly interconnected. This means that if you have sensitive information on your machines and computers, like contracts or financial statements—then you probably know that all your data is prone to breaches. If you are not careful and hackers exploit vulnerabilities in your system, consequences can be fatal for your business.

Indeed, the importance of preventing spooling in cyberattacks cannot be stressed enough. But with careful planning and implementation, you can protect your organization against the risks of spooling attacks—or any other risks for that matter.

At Inkit, we can help. Our PDF generator REST API, Inkit’s Render comes with features to help you set up user roles in your software security management. This “user role permission setting” helps protect users against vulnerabilities like spooling attacks, only allowing authorized personnel to have access to documents or information. This way only those people with specific permission settings will be able to view or edit them!

Try out our free API plan—or sign up for one of their premium subscriptions here. Alternatively, contact us to request a demo.

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By submitting this form, I confirm that I have read and understood Inkit's Privacy Policy.
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