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Most Robots Are Stupid-Easy to Hack

Most Robots Are Stupid-Easy to Hack

Here at Geek, we’ve been pretty consistent in our warnings of the coming cyber dystopia. And, today we’re gonna keep on keepin’ on. This time, new research suggests that hacking bots — which, remember will be coming for all our jobs in shorter order — is basically child’s play/ In a move that seems ripped straight from Black Mirror, a team of researchers cracked into a bot dubbed Herb2 from across the country to deliver an unsettling message: “Hello from the hackers.”

Cool, COOL, cool.

The research hasn’t been peer-reviewed, admittedly, but like many cybersecurity projects,  it’s also largely a demonstration of the concept. And the teams involved — based at Brown and the University of Washington — are both well-respected institutions.

This is largely possible because, surprise surprise, many human beings take shortcuts when setting up their cool new artificial beings. Essentially, designing robots is hard, and many use an open-source collection of software called Robot Operating System, or ROS. Because this system lacks basic security features, is widely used, and the source code is free to probe, the teams were able to easily break into a bot.

First, they simply used scanned for bots running ROS that were connected to the internet, and then they sorted those out from the research simulations also using the software. By determining if the bot had connected hardware, like a camera, they could be reasonably sure it was an actual robot, and not a bit of code mimicking one. Once that was set, they simply picked a bot, notified its owners that it wasn’t secure, and then asked for permission from the other team to hack it.

“No one’s really thinking about security on these types of things,” computer scientist George Clark told Wired. “Everyone’s just putting things out there trying to rush to market, especially in a research type of environment. My worry is how this carries over to a more industrial or consumer market.”

Indeed, many critical industrial systems like SCADA are already connected to the internet, and they’re one of the reasons we have those famous instances of people temporarily downing power grids or other basic services. This stuff isn’t a joke, and when bots get hooked up, we’re only magnifying the danger and introducing that many more ways for someone to take advantage of us and the machines we work with.

If you love robots as much as we do read our review of Cozmo. You might want to check out the $600 robot who can tie shoelaces. And did you know robots can manipulate our emotions? Stay up to date on all robotic news here.

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Tags : robots stupid

Most Robots Are Stupid-Easy to Hack

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