Industrial robots vulnerable to cyberattacks, report finds

Many machines used in industrial settings are vulnerable to cyberattacks, according to a report from the cybersecurity firm Trend Micro.

Trend Micro researchers, in collaboration with the Italian research university Politecnico di Milano, conducted a comprehensive security analysis of industrial machines. They found many industrial robots run on outdated software and contain weak authentification systems, making them more vulnerable to a cyberattack. Researchers also identified tens of thousands of devices working on public IP addresses, which puts them at a larger risk for an attack.

Potential cyberattacks on industrial machines could involve modifying the robot's control or calibration system to make it move unexpectedly or inaccurately. The hacker could also manipulate the machine's production logic to create defects in the product, among other attacks.

Defective products could lead to expensive returns and recalls, which could hurt a company's reputation, researchers note. Hackers could also ask for a ransom to reveal which product lots were damaged in the cyberattack.

The researchers suggest companies perform all available software updates on their machines and work with robot vendors to identify and fix cybersecurity vulnerabilities.

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