6 dangerous toys that are not child's play

The most recent smart teddy bear hack could make you nostalgic for ‘dumb’ toys

1 intro toys
David DeHetre (Creative Commons BY or BY-SA)

Innocent toys

The most recent breach of smart teddy bears -- which can receive and send voice messages from children and parents -- have been involved in a data breach dealing with more than 800,000 user accounts. The company behind the products, Spiral Toys, is denying that any customers were hacked.

Zach Lanier, director of research at Cylance, went through the more famous incidents involving toys and breaches and offers a tip with each case.

2 cloudpets

CloudPets’ Smart Teddy Bear

This may have given attackers access to voice recordings from the toy's customers, by allegedly making the mistake of storing the customer information in a publicly exposed online MongoDB database that required no authentication process. Thus anyone, including the attackers, was able to view and steal the data. CloudPets placed no requirement on password strength, making it much easier to decipher passwords.

Tip: Always create a secure password, no matter the strength requirement. Include lowercase and uppercase letter, symbols and numbers. Use a password manager to help create and store unique passwords for sites and services.

 

3 fisher price

Fisher-Price Smart Toy

A line of stuffed animals, these connected toys combine with a mobile application that was vulnerable due to a number of weak APIs, which didn’t verify who sent messages. This meant that an attacker could guess usernames, or email addresses, and ask Fisher-Price for server return details about associated accounts and children’s profiles, which provides their name, birthdate, gender, language and toys they have played with.

Tip: If the IoT device connects to a mobile app or desktop computer, it is important to examine how it connects. If the start of the URL address is http rather than https, which is the secure version of HTTP, then your device is making a less secure connection.

Related: Flaws in smart toy back-end servers puts kids and their families at risk

My Friend Cayla Doll

My Friend Cayla Doll

Now officially banned in Germany, My Friend Cayla doll allowed attackers to record your child’s voice and eavesdrop on your child. How? The doll has a microphone and accesses the internet to answer your child's questions. Moreover, criminals could have the ability collect your personal information.

Tip: If the toy does require Wi-Fi, make sure it supports modern, more secure Wi-Fi capabilities like WAP2. Also, determine what data the toys collect, i.e. credit card info, address, birth date(s), etc.

Related: Privacy groups urge investigation of 'internet of toys'

5 ique robot

i-Que Intelligent Robot

The robot has capabilities to eavesdrop on children and their families, potentially violating laws that protect children’s privacy. Their speech-recognition software maker Nuance Communications violated federal rules by listening to children and saving the recordings.

Tip: If you go out and buy your child a cool new IoT toy, find out if the company has a privacy policy first. If so, read it. It’s valuable to know how they are using your data. Don’t provide personal information that seems extra or unnecessary.

 

6 vtech

VTech

VTech had its app store database, Learning Lodge, hacked. As a result of the breach, over 11.6 million accounts were compromised in a cyberattack, exposing photos of children and parents as well as chat logs. The profile data leaked included their names, genders and birth dates.

Tip: Check to see if the manufacturer has had any cybersecurity issues in the past, and if so, how they responded. Alternatively, if the company is relatively new, your device is definitely at greater risk. Lastly, visit the company website to see how seriously they take customers’ security. Do they have a security response page?

 

7 hello barbie

Hello Barbie

The interactive toy has the ability to communicate and record conversations. Those conversations are sent to the company’s servers, analyzed and then stored in the cloud. The toy was criticized for spying on kids by recording their conversations. Through Wi-Fi, attackers can hijack the connection to spy on your children, steal personal information, and turn the microphone of the doll into a surveillance device.

Tip: Since the device is Wi-Fi enabled, confirm if the device supports modern security protocols. As mentioned before, the protocol should be WPA2. If the device only uses WEP or WPA (but not WPA2) security standards, it may be too risky to use. Those versions are older and over time have become almost entirely insecure from attack.

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