Watch Hackers Hijack Three Robots for Spying and Sabotage

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The entire corpus of science fiction has trained humanity to fear the day when helpful household and industrial robots turn against it, in a Skynet-style uprising. But a much more near-term threat lurks in the age of automation: not that anthropomorphic gadgets will develop minds of their own, but that a very human hacker will take control of them.

At the Hack in the Box security conference later this week in Singapore, Argentinian security researchers Lucas Apa and Cesar Cerrudo plan to demonstrate hacker attacks they developed against three popular robots: the humanoid domestic robots known as the Alpha2 and NAO, as well as a larger, industrial-focused robotic arm sold by Universal Robots. The duo plan to show—and have captured in videos like the one above—that they can hack those machines to either change critical safety settings or, in the case of the two smaller bots, send them whatever commands they choose, turning them into surveillance devices that silently transmit audio and video to a remote spy.