Robot Report: The Children of the Cloud are Coming to Get You


NOTE: This is the second part of a 2 part article…to read Part 1, please click HERE.

  • Fast, Cheap, and Out-of-Control? [continued]
  • Hide Your Kids from the Children of the Cloud
  • Can We Stop Robots-Gone-Wild?
  • Aligning Yourself with the Robot Future

Fast, Cheap, and Out-of-Control? [continued]

It’s becoming more apparent all the time that security practices at many organizations cannot withstand the increasing sophistication of the threat landscape. If the current approach is taken by companies with robots, the negative possibilities will be much more substantial (again, the self-driving car).

The reason that the Internet of Things is such a dicey climate for security has to do with the many points of access it allows.

“An Internet-connected robot is still a secure control environment,” says Cooper.

However, the sensors that gauge temperature throughout a manufacturing facility are not nearly as sophisticated and are easier to trick. Just as with a hacker going through a coffeepot to get to a homeowner’s PC, cybercriminals could go through the sensors to make the robot perform incorrectly. A hacker could send inaccurate temperature readings to a robot that would cause it to weld for a longer or shorter period of time, botching the task.

IT security has not completely figured out how to know when this type of threat is active – in other words, when a robot or any computer should and should not trust data feeding in from the Web and Web-enabled sensors.

To determine whether or not one sensor’s information has veracity, the first step is to integrate data from many of them.

“If one sensor records a drastically different temperature than the other sensors do, or if that one sensor is supposed to be in the US, and all of a sudden its DNS registry is in Romania,” explains Cooper, “attackers may be spoofing it.”

Hide Your Kids from the Children of the Cloud

The insightful information flowing through environmental sensors and shared between numerous robots, many of which will be built by different companies with their own proprietary code, isn’t going to be easy for companies to safely handle.

Even our living spaces will become aware with the advent of the smart home. The smart home is made up of various devices, such as the Roomba, coming to certain conclusions based on their programming and the data available. The home is quickly becoming smarter, with Cooper saying that it will be aware by 2025.

For instance, the smart home will take its standard services, along with an understanding of the location of household members and their current activities, to let the Roomba know it should get out of the room, or to inform the assisted living system that items should be taken out of the way of a patient, or to instruct a robot butler to bring you your pipe and slippers.

In some ways, the home and the workplace will become further integrated over the next 10 years. Young creative professionals will be supported by a virtual assistant both in the workplace and at home that will handle administrative tasks, said the chief executive of an AI firm. “That … collection of distributed software … will answer phones, schedule appointments …, manage the care and maintenance of that person’s living quarters and work environment, do the shopping and (where appropriate) be responsible for managing that person’s financial life,” she said.

In order for the smart home and smart office to be able to anticipate the needs of its occupants, base services must be accessible and flow through the system as an artificial awareness. This need for awareness also makes the system more vulnerable both to cybercrime and to interoperability glitches.

The only way to reasonably approach this challenge is to create a complex environment within which to determine and manage data provenance – where the data has been, how it has been manipulated, and how other systems processed it related to security. By understanding the source of data and essentially giving it a credibility check, the vast majority of sensor-spoofing could be rendered ineffective.

Can We Stop Robots-Gone-Wild?

The robots and artificial intelligence that characterize the Internet of Things will be omnipresent in just 10 years, according to Pew Internet. The question is how companies will build systems to address the new landscape.

David Geer thinks that many firms will build their data provenance models in the cloud. By spreading awareness, every individual aspect of the physical environment would benefit, such as a drill head on a manufacturing floor. “The cloud could take that drill head data output, perform some additional intelligence analysis on it, and provide that back to the cloud and down to the drill head to capture and provide provenance about data.”

In this way, a data provenance model could provide security right at the points where information is captured.

Aligning Yourself with the Robot Future

The Internet of Things will be a further evolution of the third platform – using the technologies of mobile, cloud, and big data to make every aspect of our lives easier to manage.

To start building and testing your own data provenance system, choose a hosting provider with a broad spectrum of independent certifications for your PassMark-rated cloud server.

By Kent Roberts

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