I’m Paula Santolaya, reporting live from SANTOLIVE in my virtual reality. Have comments, questions, or suggestions? Post them in the comments section or email me at email@example.com.
It could be a horror thriller: a toy holds a conversation with a child and remains motionless when an adult appears. What nobody can imagine is that behind the innocent doll there is a diabolical hacker.
In the digital era, full-time connectivity has also been installed in the 2.0 toys. There are robots, cuddly toys and dolls that move by themselves and talk to children, but many are linked to the network through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, which increases the risks in the privacy and safety of children. If a password is not configured, the connection is open and accessible to anyone who is about ten meters away from the toy, although there are already techniques to extend the connection range. In this way, cybercriminals can not only access systems to manipulate the voice and video recordings of any device, but they are also capable of transferring all that information stored on the web to use it for malicious purposes (home burglary, sexual harassment, etc.).
A report published by several experts on the British site Which? found that it could be possible to intervene in the devices of the toys Furby Connect, I-Que Intelligent Robot, CloudPets and Toy-fi Teddy and control them to talk with kids. In this sense, the German Federal Network Agency has banned the sale of «My Friend Cayla», a ‘spy’ doll that transferred data from children through cameras and microphones without anyone noticing.
Families are not sufficiently informed about the dangers of buying toys 2.0 and the absence of legislation in their advertising does not help at all.
For this upcoming Christmas, it is recommended to implement certain prevention measures when buying a toy. Here are 5 tips:
- Analyze a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection is needed.
- Read carefully the permissions requested by the system.
- Configure secure access passwords.
- Update the Operating System periodically, if an App is required.
- Strengthen the security of the home Wi-Fi router.
The risks will not disappear completely but, at least, it will prevent the diabolical hacker from entering homes and endangering the safety of the family and, especially, of the child.