Computer experts warn parents internet enabled Christmas toys could be used to hack home

PARENTS have been warned to watch what they buy for their children this Christmas, after computer experts in Edinburgh hacked into a wi-fi enabled doll.

Bill Buchanan, a professor in Edinburgh Napier University’s school of computing, was able to use the wireless capabilities of My Friend Cayla, sold as a ‘living interactive doll’ to make her speak.

The academic and computer security expert said other children’s toys, as well as household gadgets from kettles to fridges, were easily hacked, and could be used as a Trojan horse to gain access to family homes.

It is the latest warning about the so-called internet of things. In October major web provider Dyn was attacked, affecting web services from Amazon to Netflix and even UK Government websites, but the hacker’s tools were found to have included internet-connected thermostats, cameras and other devices in the ordinary homes, with their owners unaware.

Professor Buchanan said: “It’s worrying. More and more toys have wi-fi connectivity, but these can be hacked within 20 minutes using standard computer software that anyone can get their hands on. Parents need to know about the risks these devices can pose.”

A spokesman for Vivid, the UK distributor of the My Friend Cayla doll, said: “There is no potential negative impact to a user if the products are used as per the issued guidance.”


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