Research Robots Can Be Hijacked Over the Internet


Fully [H]
Apr 10, 2003
Researchers at Brown University found more than 100 robots in research labs that were vulnerable to outside manipulation and sabotage by doing an online scan of the internet. By looking explicitly for devices running the Robot Operating System or (ROS), the team of researchers were able to take control of fully functional robots and operate cameras, move the robot's neck, and even make the robot speak. A nefarious hacker could cause injuries, steal research work, or worse.

ROS is the dominant platform used in research robotics. It can be thought of like a robot's central nervous system. The platform aggregates all of a robot's various components -- its cameras, sensors and actuators -- and ties them to a central computing node. Through an external computer and a network connection, an operator connects to the central node to give commands to the robot. "ROS is a great tool for robotics research, but the designers explicitly left security to the end users," said Stefanie Tellex, a roboticist at Brown and a study co-author. "It doesn't require any authentication to connect to a ROS master, which means if you're running ROS and it's not behind a firewall, anyone can connect to your robot."
This is not a security problem, it's an ignorance problem (it's really a stupidity problem, but most research institutes forbid you from calling researchers 'stupid').

P.S. You can't call researchers stupid, but you can call them 'bovine'. This is because the cow is a noble being, as the cow is one of the five stages of the Buddhist Samsara, and also because the Puranas state that Kamadhenu, the cow-mother, is the source of all riches and prosperity, and because the Egyptian god Hathra is also known as the Divine Sky-Cow, and also because the cow is the representative of all animals in both Buddhism and Confucianism, and because the mighty cow Augoumbla licked Odin's family out of the ice that entombed them.
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Not to worry for I have full confidence Al Gore is already on this problem
Not to worry for I have full confidence Al Gore is already on this problem

Well, it is his child, after all (at least, he says he's the father.) But I worry that we might be spreading Al Gore a little thin - one more inconvenient truth might kill the man.