Does Your Rexroth IndraDrive Need a Password?

We’ve been hearing a lot about cyber security recently. Some cyber security experts have expressed shock and horror at the idea that industrial machinery often has no security features at all — not even a password.

This is not something to be shocked about. A servo motor or drive commissioned in the 1970s (and we see plenty of them still in service) needed physical security, not cyber security. Such machines were not connected with anything, and certainly not with the Internet, which was in its infancy at the time.

Industrial motion control components, even legacy ones, can be connected now. Using sensors to report a machine’s temperature, humidity, vibration, and error codes to a central system for analysis is completely realistic for legacy systems. Does a temperature sensor mean that your servo needs a password? Probably not.

What about the newer models?

But what about your Rexroth IndraDrive? It is possible to create a password that protects against unauthorized change of parameters. This can prevent an attacker from causing your machine to make unsafe movements.

Some parameters are write-protected as a standard. Motor parameters, hardware code parameters, encoder parameters, error memory  and other administration parameters are among the write-protected type. These are the parameters that control the correct function and performance of the drive. These are read-only and automatically write-protected with a master password.

There are also parameters such as those used for adjusting the drive to the axis, which can be write-protected once they’re in place.These are generally parameters which can be grouped and written as a group. A customer password of your choice can be assigned to them, and anyone who has that password can change the parameters and remove or change the password. Changes can also be made by someone who has the master password.

Other types of parameters are not write-protected.

Choosing a password

If you’re security conscious, you know that your password shouldn’t be your child’s name, your birthday or wedding anniversary, or “1234.”

Depending on your hardware, though, you may find that IndraDrive passwords can’t be those 30 character impossible to remember passwords LastPass generates for you. Safety system passwords, for example, may contain only lower case letters, and lengths are often limited.

Within the limitations of your components, however, make every effort not to choose a password that can be guessed easily. “Easily” in this case includes brute force attacks by computers that can cycle through thousands of ordinary words at lightning speed. This kind of technology means that no ordinary word will ever be a secure password.

Though secure and memorable don’t usually go together, there are some tricks. For example, using the first letter of each word in a long song title can give you an unpredictable but memorable password.

Now DON’T write it on a Post-It note and stick it on the corner of your monitor.

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