Security in the Robotic Age: Protecting Operational Resilience Amidst Emerging Threats

We are moving toward a society where humans and AI-powered robots are increasingly intertwined, but as our reliance on smart technologies intensifies, so too do security concerns. 


According to experts at MIT, when we deploy multi-robot systems, we expose them to all of the same issues that current computer systems have. However, a cybersecurity attack on a robot is even more dangerous because it comes with all the normal perils of cybercrime with the addition of potentially being controlled to take more damaging actions against the physical world.


For this reason, companies must take extra measures to secure their robotic systems to mitigate such enormous risks. Additionally, it’s just as important to prevent those responsible for maintaining these security systems from developing security fatigue, which is happening more often today with the increase in cyber threats. 


The key is in operational resilience and using the same technologies that are leading to increased threats to build smarter systems to block those threats from getting through. 

Security Fatigue in the Age of Robots 

As technology advances and gets smarter, so do cybercriminals. While advanced robotics systems can make a company more efficient and more capable, cybercriminals can use the same technology to their advantage to also be smarter and more clever when hacking systems. Unfortunately, this is leading to IT teams being inundated with too many security measures, which can lead to security fatigue


Now is the worst possible time, however, for tech support employees to get fatigued. As cyber threats increase, these workers need to be at the top of their game, ensuring nothing gets through. 


When teams experience security fatigue it can cost companies millions of dollars, especially if they are hacked and private data is stolen or leaked. Breaches that occur more often due to security fatigue can also tarnish a company’s reputation, resulting in a loss of customers. Security fatigue can also lead to legal issues if employees slip up and violate policies. 


Signs that workers might be experiencing security fatigue can include:


  • Reduced attention; 
  • Frequent password reset requests;
  • Unsafe password practices;
  • Ignoring software updates;
  • Attempts to bypass security measures;
  • An overall frustration with security measures and everything that is being asked of them.


The best way to combat security fatigue is to bolster security measures by streamlining processes and building operational resilience. 

Using Operational Resilience to Combat Security Fatigue

Workers are often being asked to take on too much today because of the need for companies to operate at such a high level, especially concerning cybersecurity. This is why many companies are adopting smart technologies to help, but when those same technologies contribute to the problem, it can make matters worse. 


As such, companies must develop a strategy that reduces risks and helps workers better manage potential threats. This is where developing an operational resilience plan can help.


Operational resilience is an organization’s ability to continue operating even while dealing with unexpected disruptions, such as security issues. It is a form of risk management and threat response that involves developing a plan to mitigate threats or creating a better response plan for when they happen. This can help to alleviate a lot of the stress that workers are feeling concerning cybersecurity, which can then help combat security fatigue. 


There is no one right way to develop an operational resilience plan, as it can be unique to each individual company. However, one of the primary strategies should be to develop a process for assessing weak points in security measures. It’s also important to look both internally and externally to identify weak points and where the threats are potentially coming from. Only then can you develop a better security plan to prevent those threats from causing problems. 

How Businesses Can Bolster Their Robotic Cyber Security

In addition to building operational resilience, there are additional security measures that should be taken to specifically address the security concerns with robotic systems. Again, if a computer gets hacked it at least won’t cause physical harm, but if a robotic system is hacked, the damage can be even worse. Therefore, companies that deal with these kinds of advanced robotic systems must take even more precautions to protect against potential threats.


Because the use of robotics is rapidly increasing, experts are already conducting studies to determine vulnerabilities and the best countermeasures to mitigate and prevent malicious physical and logical unauthorized access. Some of the suggested countermeasures include: 


  • Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI): CTI is a security method based on gathering knowledge on robotic threats. This includes Tactical CTI, which assists in identifying threat actors. Operational CTI, which assists in identifying the threat actors’ motives and tactics. And Strategic CTI, which assists in developing high-level strategies to prevent these threats. 
  • Active Security Awareness ASA): This involves an extensive focus on the safety and security of human elements, such as awareness programs, training modules, and online lessons. 
  • Active response: Active response involves the implementation of less complex detection and prevention security measures, such as the adoption and deployment of decentralized and centralized lightweight, hybrid, and AI-based systems. It can also include antivirus software that triggers an automated response through constant monitoring. 
  • Robotic security: This type of security involves software embedded in the robotic systems to protect against attacks, and includes hardware protection software, firmware protection, and application protection. 
  • AI-based solutions: AI-based security solutions are necessary to ensure a highly secure robotic environment with high accuracy and less overhead. In other words, AI security systems can operate at much higher levels than human workers and can help alleviate their workload to help prevent security fatigue. 

It is also possible that an emergency stop button could help in situations where a robotics system has been hacked and physical control has been taken over. This can operate as a sort of fail-safe in case initial security measures do not prevent an attack from getting through. 

Wrapping Up

When utilizing multi-robot systems it is necessary to also implement multiple security measures and strategies to ensure the highest level of protection. Securing robots requires much more effort than simply securing a computer system. By implementing more advanced security systems and developing a plan for operational resilience, organizations can better manage risks, prevent security threats, and keep workers from feeling overwhelmed and experiencing security fatigue. 


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