Sensors on Smart Devices Can Steal Information from 3D Printers

Sensors on consumer smartphones and tablets can be used to steal information from 3D printers according to the latest research.

Smart Device Sensors Can Hack 3D Printers

A research team from the University of Buffalo in New York has created an attack mechanisms that extracts 3D printer information using sensor data from a consumer smartphone. This has been achieved using an in-depth analysis of the way 3D printers emit magnetic signals using the sensors found in the smart devices.

According to the research protection from cyber security attacks in 3D printing is still not very developed. When printing, these devices emit diverse side-channel signals that are rendered according to the specific G-code instructions in the order file. The signals are both acoustic and magnetic, and when viewed as a single set they can provide accurate information about the operation of the printer.

Experimental data shows that using sensors found on consumer devices the researchers were able to reconstruct the physical prints with a low error margin. The biggest source of data leakage is found in the electromagnetic waves coming from the printer devices.

The devised attack model has been tested with a Nexus 5 smartphone running on the Android 6.01 operating system. The extracted data has been gathered from a short distance from the target machine. The channel side information has been processed upon detection, and it includes valuable data that can be used to reconstruct the order. Acquired values include the layer movement options, header movement, and axial movement.

This attack proves that attackers can use this tactic to steal information about the printing tasks and even their designs. Concerns over potential 3D printing piracy can arise from such scenarios.

The research team has proposed several steps that can prevent data leakage from the devised attack.

3D printers should be isolated in separate rooms.

3D printer vendors can include software that alternates the speed of the printing nozzle. This causes randomness in the electromagnetic and acoustic waves.

For more information, you can read the paper titled “My Smartphone Knows What You Print: Exploring Smartphone-based Side-channel Attacks Against 3D Printers.”

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Author : Martin Beltov

Martin graduated with a degree in Publishing from Sofia University. As a cyber security enthusiast he enjoys writing about the latest threats and mechanisms of intrusion.

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