Jul 12, 2016 | By Benedict

Researchers at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering have published a report highlighting two potential cybersecurity risks associated with 3D printing. The researchers noted that printing orientation and insertion of fine defects could represent “possible foci for attacks.”

Could your 3D print be compromised by hackers?

When designing a digital model for 3D printing, care must be taken to ensure that the printed object is sufficiently strong and not liable to break because of structural defects. But while a great deal of care and inspection can be applied at the design stage, what happens when an online intruder deliberately tampers with the file before it is 3D printed? Such cybersecurity risks are the subject of a new paper conducted by researchers at NYU, who have investigated the dangers of an electronics industry in which trusted, partially trusted, and untrusted parties form part of a global supply chain.

The researchers behind the project, a team of cybersecurity and materials engineers, examined two particular aspects of 3D printing which have pertinent cybersecurity implications. The first area of examination was that of printing orientation: since CAD files do not give instructions for print head orientation, malefactors could potentially alter the printing process undetected. Consequences of this kind of action could be severe, with print orientation able to account for a 25% difference in strength. "Minus a clear directive from the design team, the best orientation for the printer is one that minimizes the use of material and maximizes the number of parts you can print in one operation," explained Nikhil Gupta, one of the researchers. By 3D printing a critical-use part in a sub-optimal orientation, manufacturers could therefore be posing serious risks to the end user of the printed component.

NYU's Tandon School of Engineering

Another area of concern for the researchers was the possibility of hackers introducing internal defects into 3D models prior to printing. It has been posited that malefactors could deliberately alter the 3D composition of a part in order to effect its eventual failure. The team found that, when they introduced such defects themselves, common industrial monitoring techniques such as ultrasonic imaging were unable to detect any problem. However, over time, printed objects with such defects could weaken dramatically upon exposure to heat, light, humidity, etc. “With 3D printed components, such as metallic molds made for injection molding used in high temperature and pressure conditions, such defects may eventually cause failure,” Gupta said.

Although 3D printing could be susceptible to other cybersecurity problems, the researchers observed that print orientation and defect insertion each posed a realistic and palpable threat, with members of the industry currently offering insufficient defenses against such action. "These are possible foci for attacks that could have devastating impact on users of the end product, and economic impact in the form of recalls and lawsuits,” Gupta added.

A failed print. Hacked?

The research paper, “Manufacturing and Security Challenges in 3D Printing,” was published in the journal JOM. Its authors were Steven Eric Zeltmann, Gupta, Nektarios Georgios Tsoutsos, Michail Maniatakos, Jeyavijayan Rajendran, and Ramesh Karri.



Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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Not a 3d Hacker wrote at 7/19/2016 9:30:59 PM:

If you're model is critical you can do what the software industry has done for decades now. Create a checksum of a known good model's code. Then before printing it, compare checksum to known, any deviation would alter the checksum, then you know not to print it. Seems like a stretch to make a thing about this kind of attack/hack.

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