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Hackers can 'talk to your children' through connected toys
14 November 2017, 04:39 | Hattie Nash
Strangers 'can use smart toys to message children'
The warnings come after United Kingdom consumer watchdog Which? urged major retailers to withdraw a number of "connected" toys that are expected to be popular at Christmas, after finding security failures that could put a child's safety at risk.
An investigation found that a would-be hacker needed no password and little technical knowledge to gain access to the toys and to start sharing messages with a child, which in some cases could be heard through a loudspeaker built into the toy.
A spokesperson for Vivid Imaginations, i-Que's maker, said the company was aware of recent reports on connected toys which raised security issues.
Which? is asking all retailers - such as Argos, Amazon ad Toys R Us - to stop selling smart toys with known security problems. But Which? found the toy could be hacked via its unsecured Bluetooth connection. The lack of authentication means that, in theory, any device within physical range could link to the toy and take control or send messages, the watchdog said.
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In collaboration with German consumer group Stiftung Warentet, Which? tested connected toys on sale at major retailers.
The investigation found that four out of seven of the tested toys could be used to talk to the children playing with them.
When turned on, the toys could be connected with any device within a Bluetooth range of up to 30 metres. It does not use any security features when pairing.
The connection could be made via a smartphone or laptop, opening up opportunities to control the toy. Researchers were then able to upload a custom audio file to the toy, which could be anything given the lack of restrictions, including inappropriate material.
Which? also criticised the I-Que Intelligent Robot, which has previously appeared on Hamleys' "top toys" Christmas list. But the Which? investigation revealed that anyone could download the app, find a toy within Bluetooth range and start chatting using the robot's voice by typing into a text field.
CloudPets, available from Amazon, come as a stuffed animal and enable friends to send messages to a child, played back on a built-in speaker. In support of this, we also engaged a third party to perform security testing on the Furby Connect toy and Furby Connect World app. It found that as the toy had no authentication protections, hackers could send a child voice messages and receive answers.
The Register has contacted Spiral Toys, manufacturers of CloudPets and Toy-Fi Teddy, for comment.
Some of the coolest gifts on the shelves this year have security flaws that leave them vulnerable to hacking and could put children at risk.
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