Parents with children who own a Wi-Fi-enabled Barbie doll should be wary because new reports claim the dolls can be hacked by outsiders to spy on children.
Hackers could use the information gathered from the doll and turn the built-in microphone into a surveillance device. Listening in on conversations could be an easy affair, and no one would be able to tell what is going on.
In collaboration with Toy Talk, a company that creates conversational characters, Mattel created its first Internet-capable Barbie doll known as the Hello Barbie. The toy company calls it the world's first interactive doll, due to the fact that children can speak with the doll in similar ways as to how one would interact with Apple's Siri or Microsoft's Cortana.
We understand that when the child speaks to the doll, the information is collected and sent off to a third-party source. After that, the source sends back data that allow the doll to respond in natural language. However, this is not safe as found out by U.S. security researcher Matt Jackubowski.
He says the Hello Barbie doll is very much vulnerable because hackers can gain access to certain personal information, which also includes audio files stored inside the doll.
Jackubowski also went on to talk about the possibilities of revoking the doll's access to Mattel's servers. Instead, the dolls would have access to a server owned by hackers, and as such, they could have the doll saying whatever they want.
"You can take that information and find out a person's house or business. It's just a matter of time until we are able to replace their servers with ours and have her say anything we want," said Jaskubowski.
The whole thing raises concerns, which is why parents must take heed, supervise and advise their children on privacy to minimize any invasion or the possibility of it. Furthermore, it is said hackers could also gain access to the Wi-Fi network and probably devices connected to it. This could allow them to access personal information in a very big way.
Mattel has come under fire in the past after parents found out the doll stored audio of what children are saying. Months ago, Toy Talk Chief Executive Oren Jacob assured that the Hello Barbie was designed with privacy and security in mind. "As parents ourselves, with a career-long commitment to family entertainment, safety is a priority for the company. Conversations recorded through ToyTalk's products are never used for advertising, marketing, or publicity purposes," Jacob said.