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Robots are the future. Which might throw some of us into a panic. Apart from the concerns about murderous androids killing us all in our beds what happens if we become so dependent on them and then they are targeted by cyber-criminals? Hacked robots could be held to ransom. It’s a scenario security experts are now taking seriously.

Hacked robots could cripple the NHS

TA ransomware attack similar to the WannaCry hack which crippled parts of the NHS could leave robots paralysed and thousands of businesses at the mercy of hackers.

Traditionally ransomware encrypts data but it could be used to hold a robot’s functionality to ransom rendering them useless, professional hackers from IOActive have told the 2018 Kaspersky Security Analyst Summit (SAS) in Mexico.

“It’s no secret that ransomware attacks have become a preferred method for cyber criminals to get monetary profit by encrypting victim information and requiring a ransom to get the information back,” said senior security researcher Lucas Apa.

He found that the behaviour of a robot could be shifted by entering custom code into a behaviour file. In a video demo, a retail robot switched from being helpful and polite to malicious and demanding the cryptocurrency Bitcoin.

“We decided to conduct a proof-of-concept ransomware attack on the NAO robot, leveraging vulnerabilities we uncovered in our prior research in 2017,” Apa added.

“What we found was pretty astonishing: Ransomware attacks could be used against business owners to interrupt their businesses and coerce them into paying ransom to recover their valuable assets.”

Hacked robots demanding bitcoins (IOActive)
(IOActive)

Hacking attacks

In May 2017 the WannaCry ransomware, which locked users out of their computer systems until a Bitcoin ransom was paid, struck businesses in more than 150 countries around the world, including the NHS.

As a result of the attack, which shut down systems at hospitals across the country, ambulances were redirected and many services were forced to operate on an emergency-only basis.

Apa and IOActive chief technical officer Cesar Cerrudo conducted the robot ransomware attack on commercially available Pepper and NAO robots, developed by SoftBank Robotics. They have alerted the firm to the findings.

Is our increasing reliance on robots should storing up trouble for the future? Could hacked robots bring the country to a standstill? Let us know in the comments box below.

* Prices correct at time of posting.

1 COMMENT

  1. HOW MANY FOLK EVER HEARD OF A GERMAN BY THE NAME OF FRITZ LANG ? ONE OF HIS EARLIEST
    FILMS TITLED METROPOLIS ! ROBOTIC HORRIFIC DEPICTIONS OF THE SELF DESTRUCTION OF THE WORLD DUE TO ONE MAN’s evil egotistic ambition to rule over his own universe ! And this was made in 1930 s GERMANY BY A GENIUS WHO REALISING HIS OWN NATIONS SICKNESS EMIGRATED IN TIME TO HOLLYWOOD WHERECHE WAS WARMLY WELCOMED AND VRTUALLY SINGLE HANDEDLY, APART FROM CHOSEN CREWS AND ACTORS, RESHAPED AMERICAN CINEMA OF DREAMS AND GHOULS !! MANY FAILED ATEMPTS TO COPY THIS GENT ALL FAILED MISERABLY. AND THEN ONE DAY ANOTHER UNKNOWN SMASHED ALL THE SWEET AND LOVELINESS OF HOLLYWOOD WITH A
    SO CALLED “”FRIENDLY COMPUTER “” CALLED HAL ? 2001 A SPACE ODDYSEY WAS CONSIDERED A GREAT FILM, BUT ONLY REALLY UNDERSTOOD BY THE MALE SPECIES AND THEREFORE FEW FEMALES WERE EVER SEEN QUEUING ROUND THE CINEMA BLOCK ! OR IF THEY WENT WITH THEIR PARTNERS, MOST WERE LAUGHED AT DUE TO FALLING ASLEEP FROM SHEER BOREDAM ! NOBODY WANTED TO ADMIT THAT THE WOMEN WERE OFTEN ENTHRALLED AND IN.FACT IT WAS THE MEN THAT WERE DOZING OFF ! MR KUBRICK NEVER FOLLOWED IN ANYONES WAKE, HE WAS SINGULARLY 100% TRUE TO HIS ART, RIGHT UP UNTIL HIS FINAL UNIQUE OFFERING . SO, IN SHORT ANYONE WHO KNOWS ANYTHING ABOUT FILM AND FILM HISTORY IS WELL AWARE OF
    POTETIALITY OF ROBOTS RUNNING RINGS AROUND MERE MORTALS SUCH AS YOU AND ME !!!!

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