Hacking Sex Toys and Robots
This Gives a New Meaning to Penetration Testing
The security expert Ken Munro has run a series of penetration tests on sex toys and dolls for children … the results are concerning.
Everything that could be connected to a computer could be potentially exploited to hack it, we read about several cases that demonstrated how it is possible to compromise a PC by using a mobile phone charger or an e-cigarette.
The windows of exposure to cyber threats dramatically increase when these devices exchange data with other entities over the internet or with a mobile phone, lack of encryption and security bugs are most common security issues that could expose our data.
Today I read about another possible attack vector … Internet connected sex toys.
I’m not joking, Forbes has published an interesting post to explain the results of a penetration test conducted on sex toys that connect to the internet.
The expert Ken Munro at Pen Test Partners has tested the Nora and Max toys designed by from Lovense. The sex toys allow users to try out different functions via an app, but they also allow owners to contact another user only to give him the commands of the toy from afar.
“Someone in rural Berkshire, for instance, could titillate a lover in Timbuktu just by tapping some buttons on their Apple or Android phone, or over their PC. It’s all done over something called “teledildonic software”.”reads a blog post from Forbes.
The surprises do not end, there is also a “Body Chat” service that interface the sex toys, a sort of Skype for virtual sex. Here’s where the security problems started, Munro told Forbes. Munro explained that there are several significant security issues in the environment of the sex pleasure, for example the registration process is not protected by encryption, allowing anyone to snoop user’s data, meanwhile passwords were stored in MD5 that is easy to break.
“It will clearly be trivial to compromise a user’s account and access some quite juicy content, particularly so if the victim is a ‘friend’ in a shared household using the same wireless access point,” said Munro.
Another potential flaw is related to the management of videos in the removable storage of the device.
“It doesn’t take much to realise that in the event of a lost, stolen or sold phone, that’s potentially naked selfie masturbation videos,” added Munro. “Encryption of the phone and removable storage would mitigate this, but few Android users prior to Lollipop do, and that also assumes that there aren’t other ways to root the phone. Some Android handsets can’t handle encryption of external storage either.”
[Editor’s note: After publication I was contacted by a representative of Lovense with the following comments on the reported security flaws.You have gotten this information from the Forbes article, where it was originally published… We have responded to Pen Test Partners concerns. Please see the article again, as it has been updated with our response:
1. A hacker would not see any recorded data because we do not save any data on our servers. The hacker would only see a person’s contact list.2. We do not even allow the user to record video. So even if someone’s phone was stolen, there would be absolutely no video of a person’s session.3. A person “tapping” in through someone’s network would not be able to easily see the live video stream because our media stream is encrypted before being transferred.]
Whose doll is it?
Not only sexy toys, Munro also tested a popular kid’s toy called My Friend Cayla, created by the Vivid Toy Group, which is able to interact with a mobile app so to talk with it “like a real friend”.
In this case, I found very concerning that a toy that is used by the child could expose them to ill-intentioned, the researcher demonstrated that it is quite easy to change the dolly stock responses from child-friendly platitudes to much more offensive content.
“An attacker would need to pair the dolly with their own device, either by quickly grabbing the toy or finding a way to remotely exploit the phone.” reports Forbes.
“We don’t think it would take much to turn her into a device to spy on and potentially interact with children. You would be well advised to make sure that she is switched off when not explicitly in use and make sure that the mobile device is secured with a strong PIN, also kept and patched up to date. In the longer term the manufacturer should apply a PIN for the Bluetooth pairing process, but we don’t think that can be done without a product recall.”
Now consider the potential application to a sex robot intended for adult use. The robot could of course be used as a sort of spy but also could potentially be controlled by another person without the user’s knowledge or permission. An attacker possibly could control both what the robot says and does.
At the time of publication, Lovense hadn’t replied to Munro, meanwhile Vivid was taking Munro’s findings on board and plans to release an update for the app that will fix the issue.
Summary: Everything that could be connected to mobile devices or directly exposed on the Internet, like the sex toys, could enlarge our surface of attack exposing our data and habits to bad actors.
It’s time to think security by design … for the dolls of our children … and those of adults
“When the most intimate parts of people’s lives are being opened up to digital snoops, it’s probably time to make a change. That’s why non-profit groups like Builditsecure.ly have emerged, pressuring manufacturers large and small to think of security and privacy from the start of their design processes.” closes Forbes.