Exploring care robots' cybersecurity threats from care robotics specialists’ point of view
Keywords:care robot, cybersecurity of robots, cybercrime, thematic interviews, hijacking, rehabilitation systems
Care robots can perform tasks related to physical or mental care; assisting in daily tasks or rehabilitation, independently or semi-automatically. Care robots are exploitable in home-care, nursing homes, or other care facilities. Care robots have the potential to solve several challenges related to aging people. However, care robots suffer have similar cybersecurity problems as other information and communication technology (ICT) devices. In addition, the cybersecurity threats of care robots have been studied less than those of industrial robots. This study’s purpose is to map cybersecurity threats related to care robots from the perspective of care robotics specialists. The study consists of thematic interviews of six purposive-selected specialists in care robotics. A semi-structured thematic interview guide based on the literature view of previous studies, facilitates the conversations at the interviews. All interviews were transcribed verbatim, analyzed by deductive content analysis, and the remaining material was analyzed by inductive content analysis. According to the interviewed specialists, care robots’ cybersecurity threats are associated with the same risks and threats as the use of other ICT devices or robots. Most potential threats are considered to be remote access of care robots, spying, and eavesdropping. Network connectivity is seen as the main interface to the realization of cybersecurity threats in care robotics. New features such as artificial intelligence and machine learning are considered to create more opportunities for new threats. Experts also highlight the underlying human factors behind cybercrime. According to the results, more studies exploring the motives for cybercrime against care robots and the potential benefits derived from it are needed to determine the likelihood of the realization of threats to care robots are needed. Cybersecurity is a race against cybercrime and finding a balance between significant and acceptable risks. In the future, a service ecosystem should be developed which guarantees the safety of care robots throughout their life-cycle: during the design and development phase, deployment and user guidance, maintenance, and reuse of the robot. Additionally, it is important to take into account how new robust operating models can withstand failures and how critical services can be secured in the event of a cybersecurity threat.
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