Smart Toys

Jody Victor‘s crew wants to warn everyone that you need to be careful if you are considering buying
smart toys for children. Our warning is 2-pronged.

First is that any toy that can go online via WiFi has the potential to be hacked. There are already some instances of this.

The Hello Barbie doll was found to be able to be a surveillance device.

VTech, based in Hong Kong, had a vulnerability that allowed private information including names, addresses, email addresses, download history, secret questions to be compromised.

HereO watch, a GPS-enabled watch, had a vulnerability that allowed stalkers a way to track and send messages posing as their parents.

Fisher Price’s Smart Toy Monkey had a vulnerability that could leak owner information.

These are just a few toys we know of so far.

The second prong to this problem is this: Will these be new avenues for our (or any) government to track us? Will any toy or device equipped with a camera and/or microphone allow government agencies to spy on us or for them to confiscate them for investigation?

We might need to think twice before purchasing these items.

Can YOUR car be hacked?

(Reuters) A couple of white-hat hackers (those who are hired to find software vulnerabilities) set out to hack some cars. They were able to force a Toyota Prius to brake when it was going 80 miles per hour, jerk its steering wheel, or accelerate its engine. They can disable the brakes on a Ford Escape at slow speeds so it keeps moving no matter how hard the driver tries to stop.

They were actually doing this sitting in the cars with a laptop on their laps hooked to the network of the cars. They didn’t do it remotely, but this did uncover security flaws.

The two hackers, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, will detail their findings ans publish the techniques they used in a 100-page white paper. This research was conducted with a grant from the U.S. government. They will also release the software they built to do this at this week’s Def Con hacking convention in Las Vegas.

~ Jody Victor