Robotics geniuses need to consider cybersecurity

The annual U.K. robotics show was full of science-fiction wonders: robots that care for the elderly, or do eye surgery.

One science-fiction scenario not displayed was the most frightening: What happens when the robots get out of control?

“As we go forward and we look at driverless cars, we look at medical robotics and things like that, these are things of critical importance,” explained professor Carsten Maple of Cyber Systems Engineering at the University of Warwick.

“We must make sure that we understand the security concerns right at the outset and plan those in, rather than think afterward, oh right how do we secure them now, because there’s more attacks on these systems,” said Maple.

As robots proliferate in human society, so do security flaws.

Robots are used for everything from surgery to driving cars.

The people designing the software are thinking function, not defense. Hackers are thinking, “There is a vulnerability.”

People like Maple understand this. They want designers to include security from the outset.

The recent “Petya” and “Wannacry” attacks showed the system’s flaws. Computers all over the world locked up.

“What we’re seeing is a number of attacks having significant impact now and that’s because we are connected and I think one of the issues around that is that we’re thinking about security a little bit late in the day,” said Maple.

While the robotic geniuses are writing code, so are the hackers.

Already hackers have been able to shut down banks and train stations. They have stolen data from hospitals and businesses. The last attack shut down the Ukraine government.

And still no one is really sure who attacked, or why.

All of this proves that cybersecurity is an overlooked priority—and a very serious vulnerability for our whole constantly plugged-in, interconnected lifestyles.

Nobody would believe a science-fiction movie called “The virus which shut off the world.”

Even when we see it happen in real life.

 
 
 

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