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Hello Barbie Doll Cited As A Threat At Security Conference

Image of the upcoming Hello Barbie doll. Click to view larger image At a recent cyber-security conference at New York University, a MasterCard executive raised concerns about the WiFi-enabled Barbie doll. The New York Post newspaper reported:

"The chief executive of MasterCard on Friday singled out the $75 Mattel doll as a security threat — the second time the tech-smart Barbie has run into trouble. Ajay Banga said hackers can gain control of Barbie’s voice and then “talk” to a child. The hackers can then win the confidence of the kid and, under certain circumstance, attempt to gain access to your home..."

Regular readers of this blog are familiar with the security issues from Internet-connected toys, such as this doll, which also contain a voice-recognition interfaces. As Banga accurately emphasized, a criminal can hack the toy and ask the child what valuables the family owns, plus when the home will be vacant. Adolescents and toddlers are too young to understand security concepts, what not to disclose to strangers, and when a toy asks inappropriate questions.

Think of it this way, criminals regularly use phone spam to trick adults into revealing sensitive personal and financial information. It would probably be easier to trick young children. With Internet-connected devices in homes, criminals can easily bypass do-not-call registries.

Banga also mentioned that MasterCard is a favorite target of hackers, with 15,000 attempted hacks daily. That reinforces the observation that criminals go where the money is. The newspaper also reported:

"Several of the most prominent names in cybersecurity said during the conference that most people aren’t aware of the growing number of cybersecurity threats that they’re exposed to as manufacturers keep making products that hook up to the Internet. One of the biggest vulnerabilities is the so-called “Internet of things” — everything from TVs to refrigerators to vending machines that automatically connect to the Internet, and then transmit data to another source."

Comments

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Chanson de Roland

If all that happens to parents is that their home is broken into or they suffer identity theft, they should count themselves lucky, because it could even be far worse. Willie Sutton, a bank robber in the early 20th Century, was asked why he robbed banks. He replied: "Because that's where the money is." And so too pedophiles will exploit Hello Barbie, if they can, because that is where the children are.

It is reported here that Hello Barbie is easy to hack. Then pedophiles will hack it, because that is where the children are, for they, pedophiles, must have access to our children for to perform acts upon them that decency restrains speaking of.

And, of course, this does not stop at Hello Barbie but is true for all the devices of Internet of Things (IOT), whenever they too can be hacked to provide access to our homes and our children and any other aspect of our lives.

George

Roland:
Good points. I should have emphasized the risks from pedophiles trying to a) lure children to meet outside of the home, and b) to meet when children are home alone. This WiFi-enabled toy opens up a new attack vector. As you said well, pedophiles will attempt to hack it because that is where the children are.

George
Editor
http://ivebeenmugged.typepad.com

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