An Empirical Study of Vulnerabilities in Robotics

Kaitlyn Cottrell, Dibyendu Brinto Bose, Hossain Shahriar, and Akond Rahman in 45th IEEE Computer Society Computers, Software, and Applications Conference (COMPSAC), 2021 Pre-print

The ubiquitous usage of robots in modern society necessitates secure development of robotics systems. Practitioners who engage in robot development can benefit from a systematic study that investigates the categories of vulnerabilities that appear in robotics systems. The goal of this paper is to help practitioners mitigate vulnerabilities in robotics systems by conducting an empirical study of vulnerabilities in robotics systems. We conduct an empirical study where we analyze 176 robotics-related vulnerabilities collected from the Robot Vulnerability Database (RVD). Our findings show that: (i) robotics-related vulnerabilities can be classified into nine categories; (ii) memory-related vulnerabilities are the most frequent category, (iii) 92.6% of the reported vulnerabilities are software-related, and (iv) software components in robotics systems include more critical vulnerabilities compared to that of hardware components. Based on our findings, we provide a list of development activities that can be used to mitigate vulnerabilities for robotics systems.