Autonomous Robots In Hundreds of Hospital at Security Risk
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The dawn of autonomous robots in hospitals is known to be friendly self-controlled digital workhorses. They help in transporting medications, bed linens, food, medications, and laboratory specimens across a hospital campus. These friendly gadgets are at security risk with hackers trying to carry out remote hacking attacks. 

Cynerio researchers have discovered a set of five never-before-seen vulnerabilities in the Aethon robot. These vulnerabilities allow malicious hackers to remotely hijack and control these autonomous robots — and in some cases over the internet.

The vulnerabilities, collectively called JekyllBot:5 not only exist in the robots but also in the base servers used to communicate with and control the robots that traverse the hallways of the hospitals and hotels. The hackers are able to exploit these vulnerabilities to create new users with admin-level access. This allows them to log in and remotely take control of the robots and access restricted areas, snoop on patients or guests using the robot’s in-built cameras, or otherwise cause mayhem. The researchers say the Aethon vulnerabilities is a “very low skill set for exploitation.”

The hackers are capable of accessing the hospital network, via the base servers and allow them to view real-time robot camera feeds and their upcoming schedules and tasks for the day without needing a password. 

The vulnerability also allows the bad actors to be remotely controlled using a joystick-style controller in the web interface. The hackers can further exploit the vulnerabilities to interact with door locks, call and ride elevators, and open and close medication drawers.

Since the robots’ base servers are restricted to the local network it limits access only to the logged-in employees reducing the potential risk. Though the risk is far greater in the hospitals, hotels, or any other place that uses these robots that have a base server connected to the internet, as the vulnerabilities can be triggered from anywhere on the internet.

 Aethon earlier released a patch and firmware updates after Cynerio alerted the company to the issues. After which the internet exposed servers were isolated from potential remote attacks, and fixed other web-related vulnerabilities that affected the base station.

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