Telepresence robots enable physicians to administer care to patients in remote and rural areas, and extend the reach of healthcare to those who otherwise might go without it. The use of telepresence in healthcare isn’t new; it has operated for more than ten years and is an accepted part of medical practice in many care networks.
What has changed for telepresence is the emergence of a new set of security vulnerabilities that attack telepresence robots at the firmware level—where standard IT security practices often don’t extend.
“Robotic telepresence is a next-generation technology that allows a person in one location to replicate himself in another,” wrote Dan Regalado, Security Researcher at IoT security provider Zingbox in a 2018 research report. “The remote person can see you, hear you, interact with you, and move all around your location. But what if the person behind the robot is not who you think he is? What if the robot gets compromised, and now the attacker is watching you and your surroundings?”