Researchers in the UK recently made a children's toy repeatedly squawk "twat" to point out its security flaws. To which I say, perhaps consider getting your child a dumb toy this holiday season.
The aforementioned toy, the Teksta Toucan, is a smart device from Genesis Toys. Security researchers from Pen Test Partners found that the toy's microphone and speaker can be remotely accessed via Bluetooth. This means that someone nearby could simply pair their device with the Toucan, enabling them to both play audio through it as well as spy on children through the toy's included microphone.
Genesis Toys is also in hot water over two of its other devices, the i-Que and My Friend Cayla, both of which have been found to violate privacy laws and also allow someone to remotely listen through the device's microphone via an unauthorised Bluetooth connection. My Friend Cayla has already been banned in Germany. As for the Toucan, researchers said they are "in the process of reporting this to the German telecommunications regulator in the hope of another ban being issued."
The researchers recommended that parents don't buy these toys, that regulators ban them, and that manufacturers take "even the most basic steps toward securing smart toys."
And it's not just a swearing toucan that parents need to worry about. A smart Barbie doll, Furby, an Al speaker, and smartwatches for kids are just a few of the other smart toys on the market that have turned out to be privacy nightmares. Consider your child's innocence and perhaps think twice before adorning their bedroom in cameras and microphones.