Security of controlled manufacturing systems in the connected factory: the case of industrial robots

  • Marcello PoglianiEmail author
  • Davide Quarta
  • Mario Polino
  • Martino Vittone
  • Federico Maggi
  • Stefano Zanero
Original Paper


In modern factories, “controlled” manufacturing systems, such as industrial robots, CNC machines, or 3D printers, are often connected in a control network, together with a plethora of heterogeneous control devices. Despite the obvious advantages in terms of production and ease of maintenance, this trend raises non-trivial cybersecurity concerns. Often, the devices employed are not designed for an interconnected world, but cannot be promptly replaced: In fact, they have essentially become legacy systems, embodying design patterns where components and networks are accounted as trusted elements. In this paper, we take a holistic view of the security issues (and challenges) that arise in designing and securely deploying controlled manufacturing systems, using industrial robots as a case study—indeed, robots are the most representative instance of a complex automatically controlled industrial device. Following up to our previous experimental analysis, we take a broad look at the deployment of industrial robots in a typical factory network and at the security challenges that arise from the interaction between operators and machines; then, we propose actionable points to secure industrial cyber-physical systems, and we discuss the limitations of the current standards in industrial robotics to account for active attackers.


Industrial robots Cyberphysical systems Industry 4.0 Cybersecurity Industrial internet of things 



Politecnico di Milano received funding for this project from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement nr. 690972, and has been partially supported by CINI Cybersecurity National Laboratory within the project FilieraSicura: Securing the Supply Chain of Domestic Critical Infrastructures from Cyber Attacks (, funded by CISCO Systems Inc. and Leonardo SpA.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Politecnico di MilanoMilanItaly
  2. 2.EURECOMBiotFrance
  3. 3.Trend Micro Inc.MilanItaly

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