Will robots turn on humans? Cybersecurity experts warn that hacked machines could attack us and even burgle our homes
The rise of the household robot appears inevitable as robotics labs scramble to design companions that can clean, cook and even talk to their human owners.
But a top cybersecurity firm has claimed that if hackers got into a robot’s circuitry, it could be used to kill.
Experts at the firm IOActive have warned that hacked robots, including some on the market today, could be used to poison humans or pets and even burgle homes.
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Researchers at IOActive have voiced their concerns at how easy it is to hack into robots and take control of them.
They warn that hacked robots could slip toxic substances into food or drinks to harm humans or their pets.
Researchers at the company tested several mobile applications, robot operating systems, and other software over the past six months.
The team analysed how easy it would be to hack into robots available on the market today.
They found that several of the robots tested were vulnerable to remote hacking.
The firm has posted a list of the robots it deemed to have ‘serious cybersecurity problems’ in a paper on its website.
IOActive state that hacked robots ‘are more dangerous’ than hacked computers because they can move and perform tasks under the control of someone else.
In a report, released on Wednesday, IOActive’s Cesar Cerrudo wrote: ‘A hacked robot operating inside a home might spy on a family via the robot’s microphones and cameras.
‘An attacker could also use a robot’s mobility to cause physical damage in the house.
‘Compromised robots could even hurt family members and pets with sudden, unexpected movements, since hacked robots can bypass safety protections that limit movements.’
And as the robots get smaller, they will pose more diverse dangers, IOActive has claimed.
Smaller robots* ‘could start fires in a kitchen’ or ‘poison family members and pets by mixing toxic substances in with food or drinks’, the company said.
Family members and pets ‘could be in further peril if a hacked robot was able to grab and manipulate sharp objects.’
And robots linked to home security systems could be hacked into to burgle homes, unlocking doors and deactivating alarms.
IOActive said: ‘Even if robots* are not integrated, they could still interact with voice assistants, such as Alexa or Siri, which integrate with home automation and alarm systems.
‘If the robot* can talk or allow an attacker to talk through its speaker, it could tell voice-activated assistants to unlock doors and disable home security.’
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