Loes Knetsch ©
Splendid! A lovely Barbie doll for your children who answers their questions! A wristwatch who tells you about the whereabouts of your child. Or a little “postman” which enables you to talk to your toddler. European consumer organisations have ringed the alarm after studies conducted by the Norwegian Consumer hackers. Everything your children are saying to Cayla is sent to an American company specializing in speech recognition.
Cayla, the doll who talks back
Be aware of smart home devices
But not only the children’s toys you should be aware of, also your home devices, as solar panels and the smart thermostat. Surveillance cameras which are hacked give hackers a direct image of your home situation. They see you walk through your house, they see your wife and children. But they also see when you’re not at home.
Companies who Connect devices to the Internet
There is a hype of devices on the market connected to the internet by companies. Companies, who haven’t the faintest idea of security codes. They create a free market for hackers and scammers, burglars and thieves. It is very easy for hackers to enter your home nowadays with default codes as 0000 or 888888. Manufacturers of cheaper devices have “too few incentives” to keep the security in order. Updates could fix bugs in the software, for example, so that hackers can not enter through a back door, but it doesn’t happen. “Manufacturers see it as a “waste of money.” The product is sold, the money is collected.
Where should you look for?
When you purchase a doll, or a solar panel with a smart card device, or a surveillance system, or smart children’s watches with GPS, or anything that is connected to the internet, be sure you can change the security code. Also, be aware of whether they are storing data intern or extern. An open connection to some company who isn’t painstaking careful of the importance of security codes, you really do not want to give access to your home.
How do hackers work?
It’s a horrible thought, that Cayla, the doll is going to give a pedophile the chance to digital lure your children, or that thieves can listen quietly, in your house, and try their luck when everyone has gone to bed. There are examples of hackers who do want to hit on individuals. Some criminals are interested in personal data of children, to use them for identity theft. Others turn on webcams from teenage girls to spy on them, which can lead to blackmail or extortion.
The rights of consumers
Consumers are not standing strong in the courtroom, The manufacturer is only liable if there occurs great physical or economic damage. When video’s of children are appearing on the Internet, you can have difficulties to prove to a judge that you have suffered physical pain. The responsibility for protecting, purchase and use of these devices is still entirely with the consumer.