One by one, the New York Times warns of the dangers of every hot smart toy your kids are begging for this Xmas: Furbies, Cayla, kids' smart watches, the ubiquitous Vtech toys (they omit the catastrophic Cloudpets, presumably because that company is out of business now).
Read the rest
The Norwegian Consumer Council hired a security firm called Mnemonic to audit the security of four popular brands of kids' smart watches and found a ghastly array of security defects: the watches allow remote parties to seize control over them in order to monitor children's movements and see where they've gone, covertly listen in on them, and steal their personal information. The data the watches gather and transmit to offshore servers is copious and sent in the clear. The watches incorporate cameras and the photos children take are also easily plundered by hackers. Read the rest
Spiral Toys -- a division of Mready, a Romanian electronics company that lost more than 99% of its market-cap in 2015 -- makes a line of toys called "Cloudpets," that use an app to allow parents and children to exchange voice-messages with one another. They exposed a database of millions of these messages, along with sensitive private information about children and parents, for years, without even the most basic password protections -- and as the company imploded, they ignored both security researchers and blackmailers who repeatedly contacted them to let them know that all this data was being stolen. Read the rest
Last December, Vtech, a crapgadget/toy company, suffered a breach that implicated the data of 6.3 million children, caused by its negligence toward the most basic of security measures. Read the rest
Remember the Hong Kong-based crapgadgeteer Vtech, who breached 6.3 million kids' data from a database whose security was jaw-droppingly poor (no salted hashes, no code-injection countermeasures, no SSL), who then lied and stalled after they were outed? They want to make home security devices that will know everything you say and do in your house. Read the rest
Last week, security researcher Chris Vickery discovered a database containing 3.3 million accounts from Sanriotown, a commercial Hello Kitty fansite operated by Sanrio, Hello Kitty's corporate owners. Read the rest
The Hong Kong-based toymaker/crapgadget purveyor didn't even know it had been breached until journalists from Vice asked why data from its millions of customers and their families were in the hands of a hacker, and then the company tried to downplay the breach and delayed telling its customers about it. Read the rest
Vtech is a ubiquitous Hong Kong-based electronic toy company whose kiddy tablets and other devices are designed to work with its cloud service, which requires parents to set up accounts for their kids. 4.8 million of those accounts just breached, leaking a huge amount of potentially compromising information, from kids' birthdays and home addresses to parents passwords and password hints. Read the rest
Papers, Please's Lucas Pope has us shuffling pen and paper again in the joyfully-bleak Unsolicited, a game about filling in and mailing form letters.
• The "getting-ready-for-marriage" bra: counts down until the big day AND plays the wedding march.
• The MSI X340 X-Thin netbook reviewed. Click here for the verdict.
• Twitt jr = what happens when you pump your Twitter stream through an IBM PCjr with a 4.77MHz processor and 16-color monitor.
• Find out why the latest wi-fi internet radio from Vtech is kind of a snoozer.
• Back in the day, young home chemists didn't wear safety gear We have proof..
• A gorgeous folding bike from Areaware (yes). That costs $2,250 (oof).
• The covers of back issues of science journal Advanced Materials are crazy beautiful.
• A wooden version of the Amazon Kindle that's only $61. They call it "Kindling."
• Wigs and hairpieces need purifiers?
• Rugged flip-flops fit for a ninja or ninja turtle.
• The Mossad Pen writes with visible ink that disappears when hit with a hairdryer. Read the rest
For today's edition of the NPR News program "Day to Day
," I filed a report on internet reactions around the release of a so-called "multimedia manifesto" by the Virginia Tech murderer, Seung-hui Cho. After shooting two people, and before killing 30 more, he mailed a package to NBC News which included photos of himself posing with weapons; videos of him rambling in threatening, narcissistic psychobabble; and a long, written diatribe.
The package is being described by some as "unprecedented," and by others as "a spree killer's EPK." Cho is now tagged by some as "the first Web 2.0 psycho killer," and the net result may be a possible template -- even a challenge -- for aspiring mass murderers.
- - - - - -
"The Virginia Tech Shooter's Digital Mark." Link to archived audio (Real/Win). Here's an MP3 Link. Or, listen to this report as an MP3 in the "Xeni Tech" podcast (subscribe via iTunes here). NPR "Xeni Tech" archives here.
Also check out a related commentary about how to properly print and pronounce Korean names, filed yesterday by NPR "Day to Day" producer and contributor Ki-Min Sung: Link to audio.
- - - - - -
For today's report, I spoke with Loren Coleman
, author of "Copycat Effect
." Coleman believes that by replaying Cho's vanity videos over and over again, the media is perpetuating the cycle that inspired him to commit multiple murders in the first place. Read the rest
I did a mini-interview with Gizmodo yesterday, in which I was asked to empty my pocketses and talk about what gadgets I was carrying and why:
Fido Vtech prepaid mobile: this is the worst mobile phone I've ever owned. I have a bottom-of-the-line Nokia I use in Europe and a similar one that T-Mobile sold me in San Fran, and when I turned up in Toronto last week, I figured I'd just put a prepaid SIM into that one and go with it. However, the scumbags at T-Mobile *locked* the fucking thing, which meant that I had to go buy *another* phone (that's THREE phones in total, now!) and I ended up buying the Vtech used for 60 Canadian pesos at a counter in a Chinatown mall. It receives and sends SMS, but it doesn't have T9, so it's basically impossible to use for texting. The UI is utterly martian, like something designed by throwing dice, and the phone itself feels like it's made out of dried spittle and chewed-up paper. Worst. Ringtones. Evar. Oh, and it's FUCKING LOCKED to Fido. Rilly. Christ.
Link Read the rest