There’s potential risk of privacy invasion in everything it seems, as Hello Barbie could be turned into a hacker’s tool that would record and steal all conversations. There are risks in anything connected to the internet. It’s one of the biggest concerns on the mind of users, but usually not for parents who buy toys for their children.
Barbie dolls are not what they once were. You can talk to them now. Hello Barbie, for example, is a version of the famous doll that will actually listen to the child talk. It uses voice recognition and a personal assistant type of tech, similar to Siri or Cortana. Technology has come a very long way in the past twenty years, when the best we could get were battery-powered toys saying the same phrase over and over again in a robotic voice.
Barbie was not the only one listening
The Internet-connected Barbie doll, however, has a software installed along with a companion app at the hands of parents. The child talks to it, its necklace lights up, the information is taken to servers, and then it talks back. It seems like magic to children. However, according to Bluebox Labs, it appears that inside the innocent-looking Barbie might be lurking the soul of a spy.
Bluebox along with Andrew Hay discovered a number of security flaws in both the doll and its companion app that might open the information up for hackers. And it’s as creepy as it sounds. Hackers could have access to the children’s conversations with the dolls, their recordings, replace the companion app with one of their own, or even potentially track down the owner’s home address.
According to Bluebox, hackers could have easily intercepted the data transmitted toward the Hello Barbie servers. They could steal the information being uploaded to the servers. Even more, it was found that the hackers could actually use that corrupted connection to gain access to other dolls. This would be achieved by replacing the companion app, which proved to have a few flaws itself.
The connection would be instantly made to any WiFi network that had ‘barbie’ in the name, which made it vulnerable. It would be easy to hack into, but luckily, the security flaws were just as easy to fix. ToyTalk reported that they have been collaborating with the researchers to make sure all problems were solved.
And it’s just in time. The $75 Hello Barbie doll was put on the shelves not too long ago, in wait for the holiday season. Nothing repels parents more than thinking some hacker out there is spying on their child.
Image source: nyt.com