On your daughter’s Christmas list is a new talking Barbie doll, while your son wants a toy laptop so that he can be just like his dad. No harm, no foul – or so you think, but experts are warning that these new gadgets may be able to gather personal information. Is nothing sacred anymore?
The company, VTech, which makes electronic learning gadgets, was hacked in November. The hackers were able to steal photos of children as well as chat logs from some of VTech’s customers.
Now experts are warning parents about the new high-tech Barbie doll that sells for around $75. Mattel’s newest Barbie is an interactive doll that works much like the Siri function on Apple products.
“Hello Barbie” connects to the internet through your Wi-Fi so that it can search the web for answers to your child’s questions. This is all made possible through software company, Toy Talk.
How does it work? The doll has a microphone to record your child’s speech and respond to it. The doll remembers conversations and learns from the data to provide responses tailored specifically to your child’s interests.
A Chicago-based security specialist says he has discovered that the toy is vulnerable to hacking. Matt Jakubowski says that the “conversations” are stored in the cloud to be accessed by parents who are in control of the app linked to the doll. However, Jakubowski says it’s not just parents who can access the information.
He says he was able to hack the doll’s operating system to gain access to network IDs and names. Apparently, once inside a network, the thief can steal account information as well as home and business addresses. Using this data, a hacker could potentially infiltrate a home’s Wi-Fi network.
Toy Talk’s chief technical officer assures consumers that the company does not share any personal information with Mattel, nor do they use any of the information to market or advertise to children.
Is it bye-bye Barbie at your house – or will Santa put Hello Barbie under your tree? Tell us what you think.