Hijacked Robots Could Be Used Against Their Owners

Media Division | March 1, 2017

The technological advancement within our society has been able to accomplish great things.  Every year more impressive feats are being achieved that move us more into the future.  Advanced robots, as displayed in movies and TV were previously relegated to fiction for the most part, but we grow closer and closer to having that technology.  And while we are still not quite to that level, the robots that are being produced these days are able to accomplish many things. But of course, all of these advancements come along with the risk that cyber attackers are targeting or attempting to exploit them.  According to a recent study, it was found that the world’s best robots could potentially be hacked, and used to reveal trade secrets, spy on their users, or even be hijacked and cause physical damage.

The study was done by IOActive, a cyber security company.  They had tested a multitude of different robots, and discovered around 50 vulnerabilities within various robot ecosystems, including many common problems.  They state that while this may not seem like a large number, their study was not a deep or extensive security audit.  The vulnerabilities included things such as authentication issues, insecure communications, missing authorizations, privacy issues, and weak default configuration.

The Potential of Hacked Robots

As mentioned above, there were several things discovered that a hacked robot could potentially do.  Home or business robots could have their cameras and microphones accessed by a hacker, which could be used for a variety of spying and recording capabilities.  As far as being able to cause physical damage, the arms, and legs, or other apparatuses of a compromised robot could be manipulated to cause physical harm to people or objects.  The report brings up the point of potential dangers of the future iterations of robots.  More advanced robots that were compromised could pose even greater threats, such as starting fires, wielding sharp objects, disarming security systems, and other risks.  While this is speculation at this time, it makes clear the point of what unresolved security vulnerabilities could lead to.

Robots are being employed in a variety of processes, and continue to be implemented in more environments every year.  As we move forward in employing this technology, it is critical that they have properly integrated cyber security.  The various realms that compromised robotics could effect are numerous.  Robots are already being used in homes, businesses, assembly lines, and a multitude of other areas.  If they are not properly defended, it could lead to an array of disastrous consequences.  Another issue mentioned by the report is that a hacked robot could potentially be a lost investment to the owner because at this time there are no tools to clean malware from a robot.

Fortunately, IOActive found no evidence of cyber attacks upon robots as of yet.  They have informed the robot manufacturers of the discovered vulnerabilities, and some have replied that the issues are being reviewed.  Ideally, these manufacturers begin to address these vulnerabilities and implement more formidable cyber security from day one.

The Importance of Cyber Security Intelligence

With attackers looking for security holes wherever they can, it is critical for a business to remain vigilant in regard to cyber security.  Threats and attackers typically display some sort of pattern or indicator around the web before they become more prominent, and cyber security intelligence helps to relay these to organizations.  It helps the organization to locate and understand the threats that are out there, and fortify security to defend from them.  Massive Alliance offers excellent cyber security intelligence services that can help to defend your organization from the fluctuating threat landscape.

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