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Serious Security Issues in Robotics : There is a Solution!

September 17th, 2018
Serious Security Issues in Robotics : There is a Solution!

We often hear about the cyber threats that hackers posed and most of them were cyber attacks and security breaches.
But now, the main concern of threat which people are mainly discussing is how complex the security system will become with global promotion of robotics.
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Robotics has been introduced to computers as well as computer-related machines by early adopters without taking security issues and privacy into consideration.
The threats that robots poses are much higher than the threats compared to security breaches of the computer.
The attack on the computer may result in the data loss or identity theft, but what will happen if the robots were to hack?
Adoption of Robots in Market
Already, many industries have started practices to use automated robots for their operations and tasks which were once done by a human.
These robots generally involve open networks and remote access which lets the user use these machines from distant or from a remote location.
Many robotics companies use authentication, basic security level, and authorization while developing robotic software.
For instance, a teleoperated surgical robot which is a machine can be used by a doctor to perform a procedure on a patient from the other side of the world.
In the future, these robots could provide urgent care to people in disaster zones, on the battlefield, even up in space or radioactive zones where people can’t reach.
If you’re sending a robot to these areas but still want the human in control, there is a link between robot and human that let them interact with each other.
It can be used to control movements and operation of robots from remote locations via a network.
This may arise the potential that it can be compromised by the hackers and used for the disastrous purpose.
The long distance between the human operator and the robot means the communications between the two could be vulnerable to attack.
Cyber Security Problems in Robots
 Cyber security problems in robots arise due to some of the following reasons listed below:

  • Due to insecure communication between user and robot becomes the main cause for a cyber attack. Hackers can easily hack into insecure communication link in no time.
  • Another reason that can let hackers into the robot’s system is their authentication issues. Failure in guarding against unauthorized access can easily let hackers to use features of robots from remote locations without using any valid username and password.
  • If vendors do not have any proper encryption, it can expose sensitive data to the potential hackers.
  • Most of the features of robots are programmable and accessible. If the default configuration of the robot is weak, hackers can easily get access to these programmable features and change them.

Cyber Attacks On Robots
Thousands of robots are now showing up in professional as well as personal organizations. As many of them are self-propelled it is important to make them well protected that is not easy to hack.
If they are not secured, instead of helping people it can become a dangerous tool capable of doing unthinkable damages and causing havoc. Already, we have seen numerous consequences of cyber security problems associated with iOT (internet of things) that affects the internet, companies, and consumers.
Compromised cyber security in robots could result in massive impact. Moreover, computers like robots having legs, arms or wheels can pose serious threats which we have never confronted before.
As the communication between robot and human enhances, more severe attacks appear that eventually become a larger threat.
Humans are now researching over new peripheral devices and mechanical extremities that robot can operate, any mistakes in security could even lead up to kill.
We have already witnessed serious incidents associated with robots. In 2015, an incident took place at a car part manufacturer where a robot killed a woman worker at Ajin USA plant. It was said that the robot was restarted unexpectedly and loaded a trailer attachment assembly part onto the women’s head that crushed her skull. Similar incidents involving robots took place at other places as well. Here are the few examples:

  • At Stanford Shopping Center in Silicon Valley, a security robot runs over a toddler.
  • In Manesar India, a factory worker died after his ribs and the abdominal region was tightly gripped by the robot.
  • In 2007, 9 soldiers were killed by a robot cannon that was malfunctioned during the shooting exercise.
  • A study in the US has shown that robotic surgery is associated with 144 deaths.

These cases may be accidents, but we have a clear illustration of the consequences due to malfunction of robots. Hence, similar incidents can be caused by a robot that can be remotely controlled by the hackers.
How To Prevent Robot Hacking?
Robots use networks to communicate with human and then operate. It becomes easier for hackers to hack into the system of these networks and induce threats.
Currently, there are numerous popular home, business, and industrial robots available that can be accessed by the hackers.
Since the potential threat to the robot is much higher, a team of experts around the globe is finding ways to hack these vulnerable robots in order to figure out what security features need to be included in teleoperated robots, they find different ways to hack and then overcome it by introducing new features of security to these robots. Building a secured robot is a complex task and is not easy to achieve, thus below are some recommendations that can exponentially improve the security of a robot.

  • Encryption: Communication link and software updates in the robot must be properly encrypted by the vendor. If this link is not properly encrypted, it can become the major cause of the cyber
  • Factory Restore: Methods of restoring a robot to its factory default state must be provided by the vendor.
  • Authentication and Authorization: Vendors should ensure that the authorization and authentication to robot services and functionality are only accessible to specific users.
  • Secure by Default: The vendors need to ensure that the robot’s default configuration is properly secured so that if the robot were to be compromised, its configuration does not get changed by the hacker.
  • Supply Chain should be Secured: The technology providers should implement the best practices for Cybersecurity. Vendors must ensure whether the proper Cybersecurity practices are being done on the robot.
  • Proper Education: There should be a proper education for the cyber security that should be provided by the vendor not only to developers or engineer but to all the executives who all are involved in the product decisions. Thus it should be mandatory to train them with proper cyber security
  • Security Audits/QA Analysis: Before letting go the robot into production, the vendor should properly complete assessment to check safety and security aspects and also the performance of the robot.

The robotic industries are now making their way to disrupt other industries with their innovative technology in robots.
As many of the people are now becoming dependent on the robots, it has become mandatory for these industries to quickly enhance its security to avoid any consequences or cyber attacks. It is time for robotic industries to take immediate action for securing their technologies from any vulnerable attacks.

Also Read : Major Cyber Attacks on India(2018)

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