Robots built by leading manufacturers are at “critical risk” of being hacked and posing a serious threat to people and property, according to cybersecurity researchers.
A research paper titled “Hacking Robots Before Skynet,” published by cybersecurity firm IOActive, details how thousands of home, business and industrial robots have security issues that make them susceptible to cyberattack.
“A robot is just a computer with arms and legs or wheels,” Cesar Cerrudo, chief technology officer of IOActive, tells Newsweek. “Therefore the cyber threat is much bigger. Compromised robots can be used to physically damage something or even hurt or kill someone.”
IOActive researchers have previously exposed flaws with self-driving cars, ATMs and major airlines.
The vulnerabilities present in the robots could also allow hackers to maliciously spy on people via the robot’s microphone and camera, as well as leak personal or business data. IOActive began researching the topic in 2016 as robot adoption became more mainstream.
“As robots become more common, so will hacks against them,” Cerrudo says. “We saw it with the rise of smart devices and the Internet of Things (IoT), only this time the threat that robots pose is much bigger.”
The company found around 50 cybersecurity flaws across six of the biggest robotics manufacturers: SoftBank Robotics, UBTECH Robotics, ROBOTIS, Universal Robots, Rethink Robotics and Asratec.
IOActive contacted the six robot vendors to disclose the security vulnerabilities. After receiving the report, SoftBank Robotics and Universal said they would be taking action to better protect their devices from cyberattacks, though did not specify what this would be. Neither SoftBank Robotics nor Universal Robots responded to Newsweek ’s request for comment.