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Local universities reporting hate fliers coming from hacked printers

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BOSTON - Hate-filled, racist messages are being spread across several of the state's major colleges and officials say they do not know where it’s coming from.

From Northeastern University to UMass Amherst and beyond, hate fliers are pouring out of university printers.

Northeastern said their IT experts resolved the issue quickly, but students are puzzled that it happened at all.

"I don't understand why these things still go on, it should really stop, it's really offensive to everyone,” UMass describes the content as racist, anti-Semitic and hate-filled.

The chancellor said they were generated off-campus by what appears to be a hate group. He then had some words of his own about the flyers saying.

"We condemn this cowardly and hateful act. This despicable incident reminds us that we must not be complacent as we continue to strive for a society that embraces diversity, inclusion and equity- a society where everyone feels safe and welcome."

But how do such prominent institutions become the victims of hackers?

"Anything that has an IP address can be accessed and if there are vulnerabilities in that device then, yes in fact, it can be hacked,” Robert Siciliano, a security expert from Hotspot Shield, said.

That includes wireless printers and that means if anyone, from anywhere can get past the device's firewall, they can have unlimited access to the system.

How the hackers got past the firewall is all part of the ongoing investigation, but Siciliano offers a possibility.

"The printers and fax machines may be on a separate system than other maybe more critical assets,” he said.

Schools across the country are also reporting similar fliers New Jersey's Princeton University, Rhode Island's Brown University, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.