As if you needed another reason not to put an internet-connected microphone in your child's bedroom.
A California-based toy company selling "a message you can hug" reportedly exposed over 2 million voice messages recorded between parents and children to online hackers.
What's worse, the company was allegedly notified multiple times that additional customer data was online and available for anyone to grab — yet the data remained up for at least a week with evidence suggesting that it was stolen more than once. Spiral Toys specializes in internet-connected toys, and its CloudPets line of stuffed animals represents what is becoming a trend in the toy industry: dolls that don't rely on a kid's imagination. Instead, products with names like "Talking Puppy" connect a child and relatives via the internet and allow them to send recorded voicemails back and forth.
In early January hackers accessed and stole customer emails and hashed passwords from a CloudPets database. Unfortunately for everyone involved, CloudsPets had no password strength requirements for its users. Security researcher Troy Hunt believes that as a result it would have been simple to guess many of the passwords, giving attackers access to customers' full accounts.
Just how many user accounts were exposed? Hunt thinks likely over 820,000. "[In] CloudPets' case, that data was stored in a MongoDB that was in a publicly facing network segment without any authentication required and had been indexed by Shodan (a popular search engine for finding connected things)," wrote Hunt on his blog. "Unfortunately, things only went downhill from there. People found the exposed database online."
"The CloudPets data was accessed many times by unauthorised parties before being deleted and then on multiple occasions, held for ransom," he added. "Unauthorised access must have been detected but impacted parents were never notified." Experts reached out to email addresses listed on both CloudPets' and Spiral Toys' websites for comment, but both messages bounced back. We also called a publicly listed number for the company's Agoura Hills, CA, headquarters, but the phone number appeared dead.
Needless to say, the team is responsible for allegedly allowing hackers to access hundreds of thousands of customer accounts doesn't appear to have its act together. While the audio recordings weren't themselves kept on the open MongoDB, experts report that they were stored as audio files on an open Amazon S3 bucket. This means that all one had to do was guess the correct URL and someone with malicious intent could then listen to the recordings.
Earlier Germany’s telecommunications watchdog ordered parents to destroy or disable a “smart doll” because the toy can be used to illegally spy on children. Hunt concluded with less than reassuring words for worried parents, writing that "you must assume data like this will end up in other peoples' hands. Whether it's the Cayla doll, the Barbie, the VTech tablets or the CloudPets, assume breach." Perhaps something to keep in mind the next time you're shopping for the latest internet-connected toy for Junior.