The Threat of Hacking to Industrial Robots

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Cybersecurity is in the news, perhaps now more than ever, but it is not only financial corporations and employees now working from home who are vulnerable to hackers. As the Internet of things continues to encompass more business processes, industrial robots are becoming increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks. Industrial robotics is moving closer and closer towards fully integrated networks, which means cyberattacks’ potential increases significantly. The list below outlines some of how industrial robots can be hijacked by hackers.

Industrial Robots

Data Theft

It is common for sensitive or valuable company data to be stored inside industrial robots. Depending upon the industry your business is operating in, the information that is contained within your robot comprises valuable trade secrets. Whatever is stored in your industrial robot, experiencing data theft is likely to significantly affect business finances.

Threats to Health and Safety

There are two methods by which industrial robots can be hacked and lead to health and safety risks. Although robots are subject to Lockout/Tagout precautions, hackers can circumvent these precautions to cause harm. Hackers can change the reporting status to make operators believe that it is powered down when it is still running. Alternatively, a hacker could gain access to a robot and control its movements remotely. Both of these situations can cause health and safety concerns, as they create unpredictable workplaces and increase the likelihood of human injury. When an industrial robot is hacked in this way, they also become capable of damaging other equipment.


Reports show that there is also the possibility that a hacker can alter the inner workings of a robot to insert barely noticeable micro defects during the construction and assembly process. Research has found that it is likely that these small alternations in programming can go unnoticed but are capable of producing devastating consequences.

Protect Your Robots

There are ways of mitigating the effects of industrial robot hacking. One of the best ways of protecting your business is to use a computerized maintenance management system, which will instantly alert you to any maintenance issues. For example, if your industrial robot has been hacked and experiencing micro defects, CMMS system monitoring can alert you to the subtle but potentially catastrophic problems that workers are unlikely to notice. To find out more, click here.

To fully understand the need for maintenance, it is useful to learn a little more about industrial robot hacking motivation.

There is a range of reasons as to why hackers might choose to target your industrial robots. The attack might come from a competitor who is trying to steal valuable company information or trying to damage your reputation, operation, or output. Alternatively, a hacker might choose to target your industrial robot to gain the information they will use to extort payments.

As the Internet of Things becomes more ingrained in everything from manufacturing processes to supply chains, hackers’ possible access points grow proportionally. If you use Internet-enabled industrial robots, make sure you protect them.

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