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Robots may be less secure than anyone imagined

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Automation and AI are trending. But as robotics increasingly take over human functions, and technologists continue to warn about their potential existential threat, cyber security issues may soon be hitting a lot closer to home.  Despite their efficiency, resourcefulness and 24/7 working capabilities, household and industrial robots may be vulnerable to cyberattacks—and subsequently to turn against humanity.

IOActive Inc, a cybersecurity firm from Seattle, discovered more than 50 vulnerabilities in household and industrial robots. These vulnerabilities could easily be exploited by a hacker. Once hacked, malicious techies could record video and audio from within the home or factory, disable security features, or even remotely control the robots. Considering the size and weight of the machines, it’s entirely possible that Elon Musk’s worst fears about machines could prove true.

IOActive contacted the manufacturers of these machines to make them aware of the vulnerabilities. The company later acknowledged that it had exploited the robots in an effort to force the companies to address them. After all, if they could find the flaws, it was highly likely that others could as well—others without the good intentions of IOActive.

In this age of complex data security policies and firewalls, the largest threats to our security are the ones that we most often overlook. Putting pressure on companies that manufacture robots may seem like an extreme measure, but it will ultimately make technology safer for everyone—and perhaps save life as we know it.


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