Either you pay Bitcoins or your robot will show to your clients.
Robots are also not immune from ransomware, and the one that affects them may even end up being worse than the one intended for computers. That is what Lucas Apa and Cesar Cerrudo, two security researchers from the IOActive company, have shown after publishing an investigation in which they have been able to develop ransomware that affects robots from Softbank Robotics.
With it they have been able to make the robots stop working, demanding a payment in Bitcoins in exchange for re-enabling them. In addition, in their research they have also been able to inject them with images and make them start showing them non-stop until the owner makes the corresponding payment.
This ransomware has been developed for the NAO robot, but the researchers say they could also adapt it for Pepper, thus affecting two of the most popular robots of the Japanese company Softbank Robotics. Especially worrying is the case of Pebble, as it is a model that is already being tested in train stations and telephone stores to assist users, and it is estimated that there are already 10,000 units being used around the world.
The importance of this research is to demonstrate that the firmware of these robots contains enough vulnerabilities to be able to do all this, and that if the researchers have been able to develop this type of attack other people could do it too with worse intentions. Therefore, it is now up to the Japanese company to use this research to protect its machines.
A ransomware simpler than that of computers
Unlike conventional ransomware for computers, the one developed by the researchers for the Softbank Robotics robots is relatively simpler, since the attackers do notor they have to bother to encrypt any content. Instead, it is enough to reach for the robot and make it stop working, demanding that the employer pay if they want to continue using the robot.
But Apa and Cerrudo have also been able to go a bit further, making the ransomware display all kinds of images or texts on the robot’s screen. In this way, for example, you could make a store robot starts displaying obscene or pornographic images uncontrolled any customer who enters unless the owner decides to pay the ransom.
For the purposes of the attack itself, it must be added that, according to the researchers, businessmen would have more difficulties in fighting the attack. Not only are they expensive at about $ 9,000 per unit, but to do a reset they might have to send the robots to the manufacturer. running out of them for weeks. This, according to the researchers, push entrepreneurs to pay the ransom to save time
In their study, the researchers also talk about the problems that this type of attack can pose for the future in other types of robots, such as sexual robots, where the attackers could threaten to reveal intimate data of their victims. In these cases, embarrassment or modesty could also cause users to try their luck with paying ransoms instead of calling for service.
In short, the study shows that our imminent technological future also has security challenges, and that users will have to continue to exercise extreme caution with any connected device they use. What you have to be clear about is that the recommended thing in all cases is never pay any ransomware ransom, since no one will guarantee that the attacker will give you back control of your robot or computer.