By: Jillian Stella, August 30, 2017 (09:48 AM)

Hackers Hacking Humanoids

The first robot was created around 400-500 BC by Ancient Greek philosopher, Archytas who specialized in mathematics. With wood and steam, he created the artificial bird and was declared the “father of mechanical engineering.”

Centuries later, robots have revolutionized into fictive humanoids and the army is only growing (and should come with a warning sign.) No, quite literally – robot humans have the capabilities to cause a lot of damage, especially once that vengeful hacker figures out how to bypass security. Which isn’t necessarily all that difficult.

Naturally, we want humans to have power over robots, but maybe we’re giving humans too much power. Security research firm, IOActive is eluding to such fear. With a lack of authentication and easily bypassed security controls, the research firm has found that Universal Robots have the ability to lift objects with scalable arms that can reach as far as four feet. In particular, IOActive shows their concern in the bots possessing enough power “to cause a skull fracture”.

Other security issues founded by the robot study include:

  • Insecure Communications – hackers can easily compromise sensitive information through weak encryptions.
  • Little Authentication – some robots didn’t even require a username or password.
  • Inadequate Cryptography – confidential information can be exploited through the robots lack of encryption
  • Privacy Issues – mobile applications which communicate with remote servers may be allowing attackers to surveil and locate.
  • Default Configurations – an attackers first step in deploying an attack may very well test if the systems are set to default.
  • Unsafe Open-Source Repositories – severely lack basic cybersecurity protocols.

Just as all things in technology, robots are evolving and the industry for it is growing, as is the need for its security. So, the next time you find yourself communicating with a UBTECH Alpha 1S Humanoid Robot, make sure you can put up a good fight.

Jillian Stella

Jillian Stella is a recent graduate from the University at Albany where she obtained a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Digital Forensics. Jillian is a Security Analyst and Researcher at Cursive Security where she works with and performs assessment and response services for clients. She is currently conducting research in the area of cyber threat intelligence.

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