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Robots when left unsecured on Internet allow hackers to control them: Study

Image courtesy: Google
Image courtesy: Google

Robots, when left unsecured on the Internet, can expose users across the web, thereby allowing hackers to control them remotely in ways that could be dangerous to both the robot and the human operators, warns a study.

It is possible to control these robots remotely — to spy on camera feeds and even send commands to move the robots around, according to a study presented at the 2018 Robotics Science and Systems conference in Pittsburgh, US.

For the study, a team of researchers from Brown University in Rhode Island, US, carried out a worldwide scan in search of hosts running the Robot Operating System (ROS) over three different periods in 2017 and 2018.

They found as many as 100 exposed systems running ROS, up to 19 of which were considered to be fully operational robots.

The findings are a reminder, the researchers said, that everyone needs to be mindful of security in an increasingly connected digital world.

ROS is the dominant platform used in research robotics, which can be thought of like a robot’s central nervous system.

The platform aggregates all of a robot’s various components — its cameras, sensors, and actuators — and ties them to a central computing node.

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