Robots under attack: cybersecurity alert for Industry 4.0

Hackers could take control of robots, causing damage not only to IT systems, but also putting the safety of employees at risk

Innovation for a company means moving primarily to advanced automation systems, equipped with artificial intelligence and able to connect to the network. Transforming, following the dictates of Industry 4.0, also means for the company to expose itself to numerous cyber attacks.

As cybersecurity experts have been repeating for some time now, hackers could take control of company robots. With all that comes with it. A possible attack could put at risk not only the IT systems of the affected company, but also the safety of people. It's a fear that grows in tandem with the increase in factory automation, which is set to accelerate beginning in 2018. The main problem is that still little attention has been paid to the cybersecurity of corporate robots, which are often very vulnerable. Companies, in fact, focus mainly on the technical aspect of digital transformation, but little on the risks associated with it.

Catastrophic scenarios

The always-connected machines of the Internet of Things, which also include robots, like any device that has the necessary structure to connect to the network, are potentially hackable by cybercriminals. However, compared to other objects, a hacker attack on robots could have catastrophic consequences. Especially considering that these machines are starting to work alongside employees. A hacked robot, in fact, could pose a danger to people's physical safety. And not only that.

The most immediate damage would be in manufacturing. Robots are programmed to perform a series of actions based on some very precise parameters, criteria that could be altered in the event of a cyber breach. As a result, a product line would risk being deeply compromised.

At the moment, experts recommend protecting all connected machines with secure passwords, changing the default ones. In addition, it is very important to keep not only robots, but any company machine that can connect to the network up to date. Updates serve, in fact, to correct eventual flaws, potentially exploitable by hackers.