I came across this very interesting article, “Germany Bans “My Friend Cayla” Toys Over Hacking Fears and Data Collection”. Germany’s Telecommunications Regulator broadcasted a ban against the smart toy, “My Friend Cayla”, “calling the toy an espionage device, and recommending that parents destroy all toy instances at once.” Germany’s Federal Network Agency revealed that Cayla dolls were recording children’s conversations and sending the audio files to their manufacturer based in the US.
Cayla dolls were intended to pick up children questions by sending them to an app on the parent’s device, which translated the audio to text and then searched online for the answer. German Authorities discovered that some of these conversations went a step further and forwarded the audio recordings to the manufacture. Yet, the toy’s terms and conditions specifically state, “the vendors use these conversations to improve service, but also to share the audio recordings with third-party companies that can use if for targeted advertising”.
Subsequently, security researchers discovered that the toy itself is hackable due to not being sufficiently protected, which allows hackers to intercept audio recordings or can manipulate the dolls conversation with the children, which is terrifying.
As a result, Germany regulators plan to inspect more internet-connected toys. The article ends by stating “Smart toys are a disaster waiting to happen”. “In 2015, security researcher Matt Jakubowski told NBC that he hacked the Hello Barbie smart toy to extract enough personal information to track down someone’s home location”.
Overall, not going to lie I was very disturbed that toys are able to store this type of data and forward it to their third-party counterparts. Being a millennial myself, we have been emerged in technology at an early age yet, our toys were not able to do this that I know of. It just makes me think about the recent DDoS attacks and how they can easily hack children’s toys. If hackers can target children’s toys, I’m sure they can specifically target world leaders’ children and gather endless data.