Security vulnerabilities on the Data Distribution Service (DDS)

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Learn more about DDS, and how to stay protected while using it

If you are currently running the Robot Operating System 2 (ROS 2), this piece is especially relevant to the security of your robots. A few weeks ago, a group of security researchers reported 13 security vulnerabilities affecting some of the most used implementations of DDS, the default middleware used by ROS 2.

What is DDS? A quick refresher

The Data Distribution Service (DDS) for real-time systems is an open middleware protocol and API standard by the Object Management Group (OMG). It implements a publish-subscribe communication pattern for real time and embedded systems, that allows participants to send and receive data, events and commands transparently. There are currently more than ten unique DDS implementations, some are open source and some are not.

DDS is designed around industrial-level requirements, defining a well-supported standard with a long history of use. It is nowadays being used in a wide range of industries: autonomous vehicles, space systems, air traffic management, healthcare devices, and, as we know, ROS 2.

Before moving on to the reported issues and risks, let’s remind ourselves that DDS is concerned with security by design; it has security features baked in into its very standard definition, such as these 5 key features: 

Cryptography: implements encryption, decryption, hashing, and digital signatures;Authentication: takes care of checking the identity of all participants in a network;Access Control:


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