More Experimental Robots Are Potential Targets for Mischief and Cybercrime


cyber crime concept/ Photo By Alexander Geiger via Shutterstock


Many research robots staying in laboratories may be targets for mischief and cybercrime. This is based on a study conducted by researchers at the Brown University in the US.

Led by Stefanie Tellex, an assistant professor from the Computer Science Department, the team claims that over a hundred systems are vulnerable to hacking and manipulation using the internet. Although it may not be huge in number, the team said that this should already serve as a warning to the research community. 

To find out such vulnerability, Tellex and team scanned the internet for machines that are running ROS - an open-source operating system that is used on experimental robots.

The team continued that these systems may be targeted by mischief makers simply because they find that it would be cool or fun to take control of a live robot. However, it is not really unbelievable to think that even state-sponsored hackers will also go after these systems to disrupt research, cause accidents, or steal data.

The issue, they claimed, is not about the oversights or security flaws in the design of the ROS. Without due care, the situation may get worse because robotics is becoming more advanced and is used in different parts of the world. Tellex said, “It is important that we make sure these systems are fielded in a secure way.”

To prove their study, the team tried taking control of a robot at the University of Washington after getting permission from its owner that they are doing a test. This was also reported by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.