IoT Security Risks: Drones, Vibrators, and Kids' Toys Are Still Vulnerable to Hacking

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A simple project to study compromised security cameras drew a trio of researchers deep into an investigation of the security risks of today’s connected devices. After they figured out how to bypass the camera’s authentication system and access its feed, they wondered what other devices in the growing Internet of Things (IoT) might also be vulnerable to hacking. Their list—which includes drones, children’s toys, and vibrators—raises serious concerns about the security of IoT devices.

“Our initial goal was to see if these systems were protecting the privacy of their users, but as we dug deeper into how these devices worked and how they interacted with their users, we realized that abuse was a new and unexplored possibility,” explains Alvaro Cardenas of the University of California, Santa Cruz.

In one scenario, his team showed that it’s possible to hack a children’s toy, called CogniToys Dino. In this case, an attacker can access sensitive information the child has shared with the toy, or even communicate with the child through the toy.

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