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Nyu Researchers Report Cybersecurity Risks in 3D Printing

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A three-dimensional printing device layers polymers to build an object by depositing material in very small layers.

Researchers at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering have found three-dimensional printing is subject to some of the same cybersecurity risks as the rest of the electronics industry.

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Additive manufacturing, also known as three-dimensional (3D) printing, faces some of the same cybersecurity risks as the electronics industry, according to a team of cybersecurity and materials engineers at the New York University (NYU) Tandon School of Engineering.

Since computer-assisted design files do not give instructions for printer head orientation, malefactors could deliberately alter the process without detection, the researchers note. They say an attacker could hack into a printer connected to the Internet to introduce internal defects as the component is being printed.

When the researchers introduced sub-millimeter defects between printed layers, they found the defects were undetectable by common industrial monitoring techniques. They report new cybersecurity methods and tools will be needed to protect critical parts from such compromise.

The researchers say the best orientation for the printer is one that minimizes the use of material and maximizes the number of parts that can be printed in one operation, when there is no clear directive from the design team. Printing orientation and insertion of fine defects "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," says NYU professor Nikhil Gupta.

From NYU Tandon School of Engineering
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