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 and more business processes, industrial robots are becoming increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks. Industrial robotics is moving closer and closer towards fully integrated networks, which means the potential for cyberattacks is increasing significantly. The list below outlines some of the ways in which industrial robots can be hijacked by hackers.
It is common for sensitive or valuable company data to be stored inside industrial robots. Depending upon the industry your business is operating, the information that is contained within your robot comprise 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 are capable or circumventing these precautions to cause harm. Hackers can change the reporting status of a robot to make operators believe that it is powered down when it is actually 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 the 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 microdefects 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 microdefects, 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 the motivation behind industrial robot hacking.
There are 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 information they will then use to extort payments.
As the Internet of Things becomes more ingrained in everything from manufacturing processes to supply chains, the possible access points for hackers grows proportionally. If you use Internet-enabled industrial robots, make sure you protect them.