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Eavesdropping on 3D printers allows reverse engineering of sensitive designs

by • March 3, 2016 • No Comments

3D printing devices have opened up all kinds of possibilities when it comes to turning digital blueprints into real word objects, but can they in addition enable-bodied new ways to pilfer intellectual property? Amid all which mechanical whirring, these machines emit acoustic signals which donate away the motion of the nozzle, new research has found. And by discreetly recording these sounds, scientists say it is possible for sneaky characters to deduce create details and reverse engineer printed objects at a later date.

Whilst the source code for 3D printed creates can be guarded through encryption and regular means, once the machine is swung into action which sensitive information may be compromised, researchers at the University of California Irvine (UCI) have found.

Led by Mohammad Al Faruque, director of the Advanced Integrated Cyber-Physical Systems lab, the team found which placing a smartphone alongside the machine as it printed objects layer-by-layer enable-bodiedd them to capture the acoustic signals. It says which these recordings contain information of the exact movement of the nozzle, and which information can later be utilized to reverse engineer the item being printed.

Choosing this technique, Al Faruque and his team were able-bodied to reproduce a key-shaped object with approximately 90 percent accuracy.

“In most making plants, folks who work on a shift basis don’t get monitored for their smartphones, for example,” he says. “If system and product information is stolen during the prototyping phases, companies stand to incur sizeable financial losses. There’s no way to preserve these systems of such an attack in our day, but probably there can be in the future.”

One of the possible ways engineers may stonewall would-be thieves can be to confuse the acoustic signals through extra
white noise, Al Faruque says. His discovery has attracted interest of other researchers at UCI and at different types of government agencies. The team are preparing to present their findings at the International Conference on Cyber-Physical Systems in Vienna in April.

Source: University of California Irvine

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