Top secret designs could be stolen from 3D printers using an ordinary smartphone

3d printer hack smartphone photo3 2
In the years to come, 3D printing is going to be used for everything from helping create rocket engines to printing new heart valves. With those kind of high-stakes — and often highly-valuable –applications, it’s no wonder experts are concerned about the security risk posed by hackers.

One possible threat is explored in a new study by researchers at the University at Buffalo in New York entitled “My Smartphone Knows What You Print: Exploring Smartphone-Based Side-Channel Attacks Against 3D Printers.”

A team of computer scientists was able to use a regular smartphone’s built-in sensors to measure the electromagnetic energy and acoustic waves that emanate from a 3-D printer. By doing so, they were then able to gather enough data to replicate 3D-printed objects with accuracy levels of up to 94 percent, depending on the complexity of the object.

“This is the first work to investigate the vulnerability of 3D printers,” Wenyao Xu, assistant professor in the unicersity’s department of computer science and engineering, told Digital Trends. “Considering that 3D printers are the driving force for innovation and an emerging manufacturing approach, it is very critical to make sure 3D printers are secure, and the intellectual property in the 3D design is well-protected.”

Xu said that very few people are aware of the potential danger to 3D printers posed by nothing more sinister than the ubiquitous smartphone.

“This attack can happen in both individual and industrial 3D printers,” Xu continued. “Also, it can be applied against bioprinting and metal printing, which are more security sensitive.”

Fortunately, noone can accuse Xu and his fellow researchers of being the kind of folks to point out a problem, then offer no solution.

One possible answer involves hardware-based concepts like acoustic and electromagnetic shields. Another may turn out to be even simpler. “We have proposed new path planning algorithms to spoof the side-channel attack,” Xu said. “No extra hardware is needed to prevent this threat.”

Mobile

Which smartphone manufacturers won and lost in 2018

As the curtain comes down on 2018, we take a look at the big successes and failures in the smartphone market over the last 12 months. Which phone maker had the best year, and who had a year to forget?
Mobile

Need a quick battery boost? Try one of our favorite portable chargers

Battery life still tops the polls when it comes to smartphone concerns. If it’s bugging you, then maybe it’s time to snag yourself a portable charger. Here are our picks of the best portable chargers.
Emerging Tech

The best 3D printers of 2018

On the hunt for a new 3D printer? We've got your back. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned veteran, this list of the best 3D printers has what you're looking for.
Emerging Tech

There’s a giant EMP blaster in New Mexico. Don’t worry, it’s here to protect us

An electromagnetic pulse has the potential to disable virtually all electronics within a large area. To help protect against such a threat is a new, friendly EMP emitter. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

Say cheese: InSight lander posts a selfie from the surface of Mars

NASA's InSight mission to Mars has commemorated its arrival by posting a selfie. The selfie is a composite of 11 different images which were taken by one of its instruments, the Instrument Deployment Camera.
Emerging Tech

Researchers create a flying wireless platform using bumblebees

Researchers at the University of Washington have come up with a novel way to create a wireless platform: using bumblebees. As mechanical drones' batteries run out too fast, the team made use of a biology-based solution using living insects.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Booze-filled ski poles and crypto piggy banks

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Bright ‘hyperactive’ comet should be visible in the sky this weekend

An unusual green comet, 46P/Wirtanen, will be visible in the night sky this month as it makes its closest approach to Earth in 20 years. It may even be possible to see the comet without a telescope.
Emerging Tech

Gorgeous images show storms and cloud formations in the atmosphere of Jupiter

NASA's Juno mission arrived at Jupiter in 2016 and has been collecting data since then. NASA has shared an update on the progress of the mission as it reaches its halfway point, releasing stunning images of the planet as seen from orbit.
Emerging Tech

Beautiful image of young planets sheds new light on planet formation

Researchers examining protoplanetary disks -- the belts of dust that eventually form planets -- have shared fascinating images of the planets from their survey, showing the various stages of planet formation.
Emerging Tech

Delivery robot goes up in flames while out and about in California

A small meal-delivery robot suddenly caught fire in Berkeley, California, on Friday. The blaze was quickly tackled and no one was hurt, but the incident is nevertheless a troubling one for the fledgling robot delivery industry.
Emerging Tech

High-tech dancing robot turns out to be a guy in a costume

A Russian TV audience was impressed recently by an adult-sized "robot" that could dance and talk. But when some people began pointing out that its actions were a bit odd, the truth emerged ... it was a fella in a robot suit.
Emerging Tech

Meet the MIT scientist who’s growing semi-sentient cyborg houseplants

Elowan is a cybernetic plant that can respond to its surroundings. Tethered by a few wires and silver electrodes, the plant-robot hybrid can move in response to bioelectrochemical signals that reflect the plant’s light demands.
Emerging Tech

MIT’s smart capsule could be used to release drugs in response to a fever

Researchers have developed a 3D-printed capsule which can monitor patients' vital signs, transmit this information to a connected device, and release drugs in response to symptoms.