Childrens' toys can be hacked

The warnings come after United Kingdom consumer watchdog Which? urged major retailers to withdraw a number of "connected" toys that are expected to be popular at Christmas, after finding security failures that could put a child's safety at risk. Researchers were then able to upload a custom audio file to the toy, which could be anything given the lack of restrictions, including inappropriate material.

Popular Christmas gifts including the I-Que Intelligent Robot, Furby Connect, Toy-fi Teddy and CloudPets cuddly toy had "worrying security failures" when investigated.

This meant that during tests a hacker did not need a password, PIN code or any other authentication to get access.

With the Furby Connect, anyone within a 30 to 100 foot (10 to 30 metre) Bluetooth range can connect to the toy when it's switched on.

CloudPets is a stuffed animal and enables friends to send messages to a child, which are played back on a built-in speaker.

"These toys, especially dolls, may give the appearance of having a personality and human-like quality that appeals to children".

The study found that four out of seven of the tested toys could be used to communicate with the children playing with them, The Guardian reports.

Parents who are consider are considering buying these kinds of toys this Christmas may wish to take extra care when selecting any electronic toy that has a camera or voice recording ability, connects to the internet or allows remote connection using a smartphone or tablet app.

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".

As more toys add Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections to pack in new skills and features, regulators have kept a wary eye on them for security vulnerabilities.

Hasbro, which makes the Furby Connect, said: "Children's privacy is a top priority, and that is why we carefully designed the Furby Connect and the Furby Connect World app to comply with children's privacy laws. If that can't be guaranteed, then the products should not be sold".

Hasbro, which makes the Furby Connect, said in a statement that it believed the results of the tests carried out for Which? had been achieved in very specific conditions. It said: "While it may be technically possible for someone other than the intended user to connect to the toys, it requires certain sequence of events to happen in order to pair a Bluetooth device to the toy, all of which make it hard for the third party to remotely connect to the toy".

Spiral Toys declined to comment to Which? in relation to Toy-Fi Teddy and Cloud Pets.

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