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By Susan Hoffman
3D printing — also known as additive manufacturing — can be adapted for a wide variety of industries. According to Forbes writer Amit Chowdry, for example, “3D printing has been used to create car parts, smartphone cases, fashion accessories, medical equipment and artificial organs.”
This type of printing requires the use of 3D modeling software to create computer aided design (CAD) files. The software used can be either industrial-grade software like AutoCAD or free software such as Blender or Tinkercad.
Unfortunately, this software is vulnerable to cybersecurity problems. Attackers can steal proprietary designs or alter software files, which could lead to small, hard-to-detect flaws in a 3D-printed part. If that part was a product such as a component of an aircraft engine, for instance, the failure of that engine part in flight could lead to devastating results.
3D Printing and Data Breaches
It is also possible for data breaches to occur with 3D printing. Brendan Fitzpatrick of Data Privacy Blog observes that “Confidentiality and privacy concerns are the most direct consequence of a data breach involving a 3D printer….For example, an individualized medical device may contain personally identifiable information and a data breach may trigger security and privacy laws — think HIPAA, various data breach notification requirements, or even Federal Trade Commission actions.”
What Can Be Done to Guard the Cybersecurity of 3D Printing?
Practicing basic cybersecurity hygiene can go a long way in preventing problems with 3D printing software and the products this software creates. Digital Guardian recommends the following preventative measures:
- Backing up files on hard drives or cloud storage solutions
- Creating a centralized area for data storage
- Keeping both CAD and security software up to date
- Changing passwords regularly and making them hard to guess
- Making sure that security software is properly installed and configured
- Controlling user access to protect files from insider threats
As 3D Printing’s Popularity Grows, Security Will Need to Be Heightened
3D printing’s capabilities are still being explored for various applications, including medicine, industry and even the military. But as its popularity increases, there will be an even greater need to protect 3D printing software.