A new study says that sophisticated gadgetry in smartphones makes them ideal tools to steal sensitive data from 3D printers. A new University at Buffalo study explores security vulnerabilities of 3D printing, also called additive manufacturing. Analysts say that it will become a multibillion-dollar industry employed to build everything from rocket engines to heart valves. Many 3D printers have features, such as encryption and watermarks, designed to foil such incursions. The researchers programmed a common smartphone’s built-in sensors to measure electromagnetic energy and acoustic waves that emanate from 3D printers. These sensors can infer the location of the print nozzle as it moves to create the three-dimensional object being printed. Also Read - Why smartphones must be classified as an essential product during COVID-19 lockdowns
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“Many companies are betting on 3D printing to revolutionize their businesses, but there are still security unknowns associated with these machines that leave intellectual property vulnerable,” said the study’s lead author Wenyao Xu, Assistant Professor at University at Buffalo in New York. Unlike most security hacks, the researchers did not simulate a cyberattack. The smartphone, at 20 centimeters away from the printer, gathered enough data to enable the researchers to replicate printing a simple object, such as a door stop, with a 94 percent accuracy rate. For complex objects, such as an automotive part or medical device, the accuracy rate was lower but still above 90 percent. Also Read - Flipkart Smartphones Carnival sale: Deals on Apple, Samsung, Poco, Realme, more smartphones
“The tests show that smartphones are quite capable of retrieving enough data to put sensitive information at risk,” co-author of the study Kui Ren, Professor at University at Buffalo, said in a university statement. The richest source of information came from electromagnetic waves, which accounted for about 80 percent of the useful data. The remaining data came from acoustic waves. The detailed findings will be presented at the Association for Computing Machinery’s 23rd annual Conference on Computer and Communications Security in October in Austria.