Connected toys can be hacked by 'almost anyone'

Furby Connect can be controlled by a smartphone or iPadapp- but it's vulnerable to interception

Research undertaken by Which? and the German consumer group Stiftung Warentest has revealed that a number of branded toys have security flaws, making it easy for "almost anyone" to hack into them.

Argos, which sells the Furby Connect and I-Que Intelligent Robot, said in a statement to IT Pro: "We haven't received any complaints about these products but we are in close contact with the manufacturers, who are already looking into these recommendations".

"That person would need hardly any technical know-how to hack your child's toy", the investigation report said.

These steps included redesigning the toy's firmware and then uploading it within Bluetooth range.

With the Toy-Fi Teddy, the investigation found that a child could send and receive recorded messages through Bluetooth via a tablet app or smartphone.

CloudPets toys, on sale at Amazon, are stuffed animals that enable friends to send a child messages that are played on a built-in speaker.

"These toys, especially dolls, may give the appearance of having a personality and human-like quality that appeals to children.

We will actively pursue this matter with them directly".

Wowee Chip, a robot dog, also sported the same Bluetooth vulnerability, but the researchers were not able to use it to speak to a child, though they were able to remotely control it.

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The Bluetooth connections on the toys are unsecured so external devices could be used to manipulate the toys. It advised that people read the packaging and manuals that come with toys to see how these sensors work and what you can do to control them.

I-Que maker Vivid Imaginations said there had been no reports of any malicious use of its products, but it would be reviewing Which?'s findings.

"While there is no denying the huge benefits these devices can bring to our daily lives, safety and security should be the absolute priority".

The Which? managing director of home products and services, Alex Neill, said: 'Connected toys are becoming increasingly popular, but as our investigation shows, anyone considering buying one should apply a level of caution. "If that can't be guaranteed, then the products should not be sold".

The company said it was "confident" in the design of its toys and its ability to deliver a "secure play experience".

"While it may be technically possible for a third party to connect to the toys, it requires a certain sequence of events to happen in order to pair a Bluetooth device to the toy, all of which make it hard for the third party to remotely connect to the toy".

"That is why we carefully designed the Furby Connect toy and the Furby Connect World app to comply with children's privacy laws".

Spiral Toys, which makes the Toy-Fi Teddy and CloudPets devices, has not yet commented on the report.

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