Researchers have identified ways in which hackers are able to seize remote control of internet connected industrial robots, allowing them to use the automated workforce in a variety of subversive and potentially dangerous ways. With an increasing number of manufacturing processes becoming computerised and automated, hacking presents a real threat. Whether it’s a giant robotic arm or simply a computerised production line, sabotaging through hacking can cause product defects, change product specs, damage machinery and even cause harm to human operators.
Because it can cause costly delays in production, factory operators are often reluctant to install software updates; making robots vulnerable to many different kinds of cyber attack.
The International Federation of Robotics expects 1.3 million industrial robots to be in action by 2018 – all of which could be potentially vulnerable to cyber-sabotage and more. This begs the question as to why industrial robots need to be connected to the internet at all – and the answer may simply be “because we can”. But much as with IoT devices such as hairbrushes and rubbish bins, we should really be asking whether it’s necessary.
Read more and watch footage of a proof-of-concept hack at https://www.wired.com/2017/05/watch-hackers-sabotage-factory-robot-arm-afar/