Who Controls Your Robot? An Evaluation of ROS Security Mechanisms

Resource type
Goerke, Niklas and Timmermann, David and Baumgart, Ingmar
Book title
2021 7th International Conference on Automation, Robotics and Applications (ICARA)
The Robot Operation System (ROS) is widely used in academia as well as the industry to build custom robot applications. Successful cyberattacks on robots can result in a loss of control for the legitimate operator and thus have a severe impact on safety if the robot is moving uncontrollably. A high level of security thus needs to be mandatory. Neither ROS 1 nor 2 in their default configuration provide protection against network based attackers. Multiple protection mechanisms have been proposed that can be used to overcome this. Unfortunately, it is unclear how effective and usable each of them are. We provide a structured analysis of the requirements these protection mechanisms need to fulfill by identifying realistic, network based attacker models and using those to derive relevant security requirements and other evaluation criteria. Based on these criteria, we analyze the protection mechanisms available and compare them to each other. We find that none of the existing protection mechanisms fulfill all of the security requirements. For both ROS 1 and 2, we discuss which protection mechanism are most relevant and give hints on how to decide on one. We hope that the requirements we identify simplify the development or enhancement of protection mechanisms that cover all aspects of ROS and that our comparison helps robot operators to choose an adequate protection mechanism for their use case.
Research focus
Service Robotics and Mobile Manipulation, Safety and Security
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Published by
David Timmermann