Hello Barbie, goodbye privacy: introducing smart toys

Hello Barbie, goodbye privacy: introducing smart toys

Hackers can take advantage of the security flaws in Hello Barbie's technology to eavesdrop on the "conversations" your child is having with their Barbie dolls.

Smartphones, smart TV, smart...Barbie?

Technological advancements have made toys for kids these days so much more fascinating than the ones played with by their parents' generation.

Now, Mattel is manufacturing Hello Barbie—dolls that can almost properly interact with children.

Your child can record a message by pressing a button and the audio file will be sent over the Internet, via Wi-Fi, to a server where it is processed with a speech recognition technology. The doll will then respond with a pre-recorded message—one from a selection of thousands.

Parents must first set up an account with ToyTalk—the company behind doll's vocal skills—and then agree to the toy's terms of use and connect it via a mobile app.

Sounds cool! Here's the catch?

The technology is reported to have critical security issues with the mobile app and cloud storage, which means hackers may be able to eavesdrop on your child's conversations. This is according to a report by Bluebox Security and independent security researcher Andrew Hay.

Martin Reddy, co-founder and chief technology officer of ToyTalk, shares that since November, they have been working with Bluebox and have "already fixed many of the issues".

Michelle Chidoni, Mattel spokesperson, added that they "are aware of the Bluebox Security Report and are working closely with ToyTalk to ensure the safety and security of Hello Barbie".

Hackers or not, parents should always keep an eye on their kids' activities with regards to the Internet. Once any form of data is up on the Internet, we have no control about how it will be used, stored or spread.

Parents, will you let your kids play with Hello Barbie or other toys like it? Why or why not? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Written by

Brenda Loo

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