Cyber hacking could sabotage 3D printing

Technology researchers demonstrated the first complete sabotage attack on a 3D additive manufacturing (AM) system.

Scientists have hacked 3D printing files, destroying a drone by allowing manufacture of flawed components. (Image credit: Ben-Gurion University of the Negev)
Scientists have hacked 3D printing files, destroying a drone by allowing manufacture of flawed components. (Image credit: Ben-Gurion University of the Negev)

IMAGE: Scientists have hacked 3D printing files, destroying a drone by allowing manufacture of flawed components. (Image credit: Ben-Gurion University of the Negev)

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, University of South Alabama, and Singapore University of Technology researchers combined their expertise to demonstrate the first complete sabotage attack on a 3D additive manufacturing (AM) system, illustrating how a cyber attack and malicious manipulation of blueprints can fatally damage production of a device or machine. The details are contained in their paper titled "Dr0wned".

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A proof-of-concept video shows how the researchers destroyed a $1,000 quadcopter unmanned aerial vehicle or UAV drone by hacking into the computer used to control the 3D printing of replacement propellers. Once they penetrated the computer, the researchers identified the propeller blueprint file and inserted defects undetectable by visual inspection. During flight tests, the sabotaged propeller broke apart during ascent, causing the drone to smash into the ground.

More than 100 industries, including aerospace, automotive and defense, use AM processes. According to the Wohlers Report, the AM industry accounted for $5.165 billion of revenue in 2015. Furthermore, 32.5% of all AM-generated objects are used as functional parts.

"Imagine that an adversary can sabotage functional parts employed in an airplane’s jet engines. Such an attack could cost lives, cause economic loss, disrupt industry, and threaten a country’s national security,” says professor Yuval Elovici of BGU.

"With the growth of additive manufacturing worldwide, we believe the ability to conduct malicious sabotage of these systems will attract the attention of many adversaries, ranging from criminal gangs to state actors, who will aim either for profit or for geopolitical power," says Elovici.

The collaborative study addresses the dangerous consequences of cyber attacks, and proposes a systematic approach for identifying opportunities and a methodology for assessing the level of difficulty of an attack involving AM.

SOURCE: Ben-Gurion University of the Negev; http://in.bgu.ac.il/en/Pages/news/hacking_3d.aspx

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