Parents warned of 'worrying' security risks in Christmas 'smart' toys

Parents warned of 'worrying' security risks in Christmas 'smart' toys

Which? identified security issues with Furby Connect, I-Que Intelligent Robot, Toy-fi Teddy and CloudPets cuddly toys, which could allow adults to take control of the toy remotely and communicate with a child.

It has written to retailers asking them to stop selling the toys ahead of Christmas until the security problems have been resolved. Anyone can download the app, find one of the talking robots within Bluetooth range, and start chatting using the robot's voice by typing into a text field, the Which? investigation found.

The failure of Furby Connect, a chattering electronic toy which connects to smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth, to ask for security features during pairing means anyone within 10-30 metres can connect to it.

Tests carried out by Which? with the German consumer group Stiftung Warentest, and other security research experts, found flaws in Bluetooth and Wi-fi-enabled toys that could enable a stranger to talk to a child.

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

The I-Que Intelligent Robot, has previously featured on Hamleys top toys Christmas list and is available from Argos and Hamleys.

Parents are being warned that this year's must-have toys which connect to the internet and could allow strangers to talk to children. However, the report highlights that the range could be extended and picked up by hackers further away, such as in a vehicle on a nearby road. The connection can be made through a laptop, opening up more opportunities to control the toy. It was found that hackers could send their own voice messages to the toy, and receive the replies from the child. But Which? found the toy could be hacked via its unsecured Bluetooth connection.

"Our security experts were able to upload and play a custom audio file on the Furby", the report said.

Alex Neill, Which? managing director of Home Products and Services, said: "You wouldn't let a young child play with a smartphone unsupervised and our investigation shows parents need to apply the same level of caution if considering giving a child a connected toy".

"While there is no denying the huge benefits these devices can bring to our daily lives, safety and security should be the absolute priority. If that can't be guaranteed, then the products should not be sold".

"The connected toys distributed by Vivid fully comply with essential requirements of the Toy Safety Directive and harmonised European standards, and (we) consider these products to be safe for consumers to use when following the user instructions", the firm said in a statement, adding that it would take the firm's recommendation about adding Bluetooth authentication to Genesis Toys.

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