Newstalk
Newstalk

14.09 4 Dec 2015


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As Christmas becomes increasingly high tech, children are looking for internet enabled toys from Santa, but data breaches and concerns from tech experts mean that these products come with serious health warnings.

It was revealed earlier this week that hackers obtained photos of children - and chat logs from devices made by VTech, a company who specialise in electronic leaning devices.

The names, addresses and personal details of nearly 6.4 million children were compromised during the attack.

VTech has since hired security firm FireEye Inc and it is understood to be co-operating with an international law enforcement investigation into the incident.

The hackers are understood to have contacted journalists - but it is unclear if suspects have been identified by security agencies.

Meanwhile, Hello Barbie, an internet connected doll which talks to kids by using voice recognition technology in the same way as iPhone's Siri, has raised security concerns.

She has been billed as the first "interactive doll." The toy stores data in the cloud, and it is linked to its own smartphone app - but security specialists have warned that Hello Barbie has a weak security system which could be hacked and potentially used to spy on people.

US security researcher Matt Jakubowski was one of the first people to raise the alarm.

"You can take that information and find out a person’s house or business. It’s just a matter of time until we are able to replace their servers with ours and have her say anything we want," he told NBC.

Mattel, the company who makes Barbie, says that no actual data has been stolen.

ToyTalk who developed the programmes which store and transfers the information says that it operates a 'bug bounty' system - offering payments to people who can find gaps in its security systems.

"Mattel and ToyTalk have built in many privacy and security measures, and we are committed to providing the safest possible experience for parents and children," Mattel said in a statement.

 


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