Australia is one of the world leaders in the Usage of Robot or you can say that industrial robots, trailing only the USA. While this is a worry for people on the job market who think robots may make them redundant, it could be a concern for an entirely different reason. This is because robots that are connected to the internet are not always secure. This was stated by the Polytechnic University of Milan in conjunction with Trend Micro. While the study focused on robots used in automotive and aerospace factories, these security issues likely are present wherever these robots are used.
The robots are quite simple looking and resemble large mechanical arms which move heavy items, fit parts together and also do welding. A lot of usage of robot is in warehouse settings. Companies do their utmost to make sure robots are physically safe as they work among people but the cyber security component is sometimes lacking. As it is expected that 2.6 million industrial robots will in use by 2019, this is a worry.
IT managers have likely overlooked the security of robots due to the new technology being highly unfamiliar. Hence it is important in future for IT managers to be sure the technology they possess is not only helping business efficiency but is also secure. This could be a case of having further training done at the relevant robotics institutes or having a robotics consultant come in. It is not particularly easy to find the right people who have experience in both robots and security and hence this will be an excellent field in future as more robots replace traditional workers. In fact, a focus on security in combination with robotics would be a logical double focus at the university since the owners of this knowledge would be in high demand.
At this point, there is no evidence that any robots have been hacked. This does not mean that none have been breached as there are no real monitoring systems in place to check if the systems have been broken into. Furthermore, while it may be true the robots have not been hacked they remain open to this possibility. A robot that has been hacked can be adjusted and so create situations on the production line or factories that are dangerous for workers. After all, in a warehouse situation, a badly placed crate can be a serious issue if it falls. It is also possible that the robot could be used as a starting point to get into other parts of the infrastructure of the company or even install malware via the robot’s system.
The most logical step is to not connect robots to the internet unless necessary. The main reason cited in the study for connecting was to make remote adjustments or to keep an eye on the performance. Until the security is better able to be deployed it would probably be advisable to ignore these options and continue to make adjustments and checks manually. The potential saving of time from being connected does not outweigh the potential issues with being hacked.