3 More Hackable Toys NOT to Buy Your Kids This Holiday Season
The clock is ticking on gift-buying this holiday season, but that’s no excuse not to do some research before you buy connected toys.
- By Jessica Davis
- Dec 06, 2017
The clock is ticking on gift-buying this holiday season, but that’s no excuse not to do some research before you buy connected toys. The wave of new WiFi and Bluetooth-enabled gadgets for kids means more possibilities that a toy with looser security standards could be hacked, leaving you and your child vulnerable.
We previously covered three hackable toys as investigated by Mashable. Since then, groups like Which?, a U.K.-based consumer products safety testing firm, and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group have issued their own lists of unsafe toys for 2017. Here are three of their worst offenders:
My Friend Cayla
Cayla is a smart, interactive doll that can chat with children. Her Bluetooth capability works with her app and blocks pre-loaded “bad” words and subjects, but some consumers are concerned that she may violate the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Cayla was classified by the German Federal Network as an “illegal espionage apparatus” and was banned in the country after concerns that access to the doll was unsecured and she could be used to “illegally spy” on children. It’s possible to connect to Cayla even without her app installed because smartphones identify her as a hands-free headset.
The latest update to Furby connects to the Furby Connect World App to provide more physical and digital ways to interact. It also has LCD-screen animated eyes and can say more than 1,000 phrases. Unfortunately, researchers found that anyone within range of its Bluetooth can connect to the toy when it’s switched on without physically interacting with it due to a lack of security features when pairing with the device. You can also connect to the Furby with a laptop, and some researchers were able to upload and play a custom audio file through the toy, which means anyone with the know-how could upload inappropriate material to play for a child.
I-Que Intelligent Robot
i-Que is an interactive robot who can talk, tell jokes and quiz children. It uses Bluetooth to pair with its app, but smartphones can identify it as a hands-free headset without even installing the app. Anyone within Bluetooth range of the toy can pair with it and use a text field in the app to make the toy say whatever they want in the robot’s own voice. Which? demonstrates a worst-case scenario of someone taking advantage of this vulnerability in the video below.
In a consumer notice about internet-connected toys released in July, the FBI suggested parents take the following steps before purchasing a “smart” toy:
- Research any known security issues with the toy.
- Only connect smart toys to trusted and secured Wi-Fi.
- Look into the toy’s internet and device connection security measures.
- Use authentication when pairing the device with Bluetooth, such as a pin or password.
- Stay up to date with any manufacturer security update or patches.
- Investigate where the user data is stored, with the company, a third party source or both.
Jessica Davis is the Associate Content Editor for 1105 Media.