We've been focussed quite heavily on Enterprise sales to date so it was pretty refreshing when the chance came up for UpGuard to be applied in the academic sphere. Even more so when the specific application was in robotics.
Why on earth would mechatronics gurus be interested in an Enterprise tool like UpGuard you ask? Well what would be less of surprise to you is the fact that robots are complicated. A robotic system is comprised of many machines communicating over many different media. On top of that each machine is running a plethora of modules and applications, many of which interface with an exotic array of sensors. Unexpected changes or failures in the configuration of these systems can take a robot out of action for hours or even days while an in depth investigation into each of the many virtual moving parts takes place.
As in the Enterprise such investigations are usually assisted by out of date or incomplete documentation. More frequently they rely heavily on knowledge inside the heads of the mechatronics gurus responsible for them. Key man dependencies in academia can be just as much of a risk as they are in the Enterprise, especially when a killer party takes place the morning before a robot wars event (that's what robot engineers do all day, right? ;)
The guys at UNSW looked to UpGuard for a solution. By capturing the required configurations with us they are able to download them as executable tests. So network connectivity, configuration files, routing tables, startup settings and even key directory structures and files can now be validated at the click of a button. When they bring up a new system they run the tests to validate that it's correctly configured. If another system is playing up they run the tests again to diagnose the problem.
Misconfigurations are an internal problem that emanate from within the IT infrastructure of any enterprise; no hacker is necessary for massive damage to occur to digital systems and stored data. And the problem is pervasive, with Gartner estimating anywhere from 70% to 99% of data breaches result not from external, concerted attacks, but from internal misconfiguration of the affected IT systems.