According to IOActive Inc., which is a Seattle-based cyber-security company, few of the most recognized consumer and industrial robots are hazardously simple to hack and can be transformed into weapons or bugging devices. The firm discovered major security errors in industrial models retailed by Universal Robots, a department of Teradyne Inc. It also mentioned problems with consumer robots NAO & Pepper, which are manufactured by Softbank Group Corp. of Japan, and the Alpha 2 & Alpha 1 produced by China-based UBTech Robotics.
These susceptibilities can enable the robots to be transformed into surveillance tools, secretly keeping an eye on their owners, or allow them to be hijacked, and utilized them to damage property or physically injury people, the researchers mentioned in their report. The devices of Universal Robots are developed to function directly together with humans without being restrained to a cage for protection, as with many other industrial models. However, IOActive could remotely hack the program that directs the robot and impair key safety features. This can enable them to be programmed to harm humans nearby them.
IOActive said that this is particularly concerning as these devices are large enough and have sufficient power such that “even at low speeds their power is more than enough to cause a cranium fracture.” With the robots proposed for home usage—NAO & Pepper of SoftBank—IOActive discovered that cyber-attackers can utilize them to record video & audio and furtively pass on this information to an external server. The Alpha series home robots of UBTech did not encrypt crucial data they captured prior to transmitting or storing it, opening a possibility for cyber-criminals to pilfer important private data, according to IOActive.
As with the home robots of Universal Robots, these can also be made to perform physical attacks. Even though they are much less powerful compared to their industrial robots, IOActive broadcast a video of a trial in which an otherwise appealing NAO robot unexpectedly starts laughing in a maniacal & evil manner and utilizes a screwdriver to repetitively pierce a tomato. Though the video is plainly proposed to be comical, the researchers of IOActive said it had a serious intention: one can picture the robot launching a parallel attack against a toddler, pet or infant.
The company said that IOActive just intended to emphasize the necessity for robotics firm to think about cyber-security at every phase of their design process. Lucas Apa, IOActive’s Principal Security Consultant, said, “For the robotics industry, these are early days, but as it develops, we want to ensure that it has a more safe future.