The “My Friend Cayla” doll has been causing quite the stir lately and it’s not for good reasons. It actually was a pretty good idea because it offered a Siri like doll for children to ask questions to and interact with. The doll is basically a blue tooth device that accesses the internet to find answers for the questions asked by children. The doll was programmed not to say certain bad words, but hackers have found a way in to change that. They aren’t just changing the vocabulary of the doll though; they are doing more sinister things as well.Cayla is a bestselling doll that was a huge hit at Christmas. She runs via blue tooth to make her just like a real life friend.
Just like something from a horror flick, the doll has seemingly come to life. The responses given to questions asked by children have shocked a lot of people.
Since it’s a blue tooth device you can even use it for phone calls. There is no receiver though so you’ll have to actually talk to the doll. That could lead to some odd stares from people. Germany doesn’t like what is happening with the doll and they have banned it from their country.
Cayla is supposed to be able to answer questions asked by children by accessing the internet. Think of Siri with an actual face and body and that’s exactly what was intended here. However, bad people are taking things one step further.
Hackers have taken a liking to the doll. Since it accesses the internet hackers can get to it and hack it quite easily. They can change the list of words she says, including getting rid of the banned words that Cayla was never supposed to say.
Experts have warned parents to take no chances and just throw the doll into the trash. The internet connection could be used to gain personal data about them.
By using the internet, the doll could answer questions asked by any child. The internet was supposed to make Cayla very smart but instead it made her very “mouthy.”
It’s a new problem like we’ve not seen before. Events like this never happened before the internet was created.
Everything we do now is somehow tied to the internet. Parents have to do their research now more than ever when buying a new product. They have to be able to anticipate the bad in a new product.
Nobody figured that Cayla was going to be a problem. Parents gladly bought the doll thinking that it could help theirs children become a bit smarter. Guess again!
Some claim overreaction but the Federal Network Agency has said that the problem was first reported in 2015. The problem has not been address well enough yet to stop the problem.
Germany has extremely strict privacy laws. Since some of the dolls have been used to actually spy on children, they completely banned the doll.
Genesis Toys has never commented on this issue. Vivid Toys however, who distribute the dolls, said “We will undertake internal reviews of our data collection, storage and processing practices and security measures, including appropriate encryption and physical security measures to guard against unauthorized access to systems where we store personal information.”
The first thought would be a brother doing this to have fun at their sister’s expense. However, if you think about it, there are plenty of malicious people in the world that could take advantage of the weakness in the doll’s programming.
Adding a password could make things a little better but once access has been made what good would that do? A password could not stop what has already been done.
Cayla had a long list of more than 1,500 words that she was never supposed to say. Hackers have gained access and changed those words and made anything available to be said. Not to mention that they can communicate with the kids directly.
The country is not happy with what has been done to fix the problems with Cayla, which has been essentially nothing. The two way microphone allows for a world of bad possibilities to happen.
The United Kingdom doesn’t appear to be as angry as Germany is. The UK Toy Retailers Association has stated that they are “satisfied that this product offers no special risk and there is no reason for alarm. We would always expect parents to supervise their children at least intermittently. We understand (distributor) Vivid Imaginations has reassured the public there are factual inaccuracies in the German publicity and they have restated the toy is perfectly safe to own and use when following the user instructions.”
If it can be accessed by hackers it shouldn’t be in the hands of your children. Bad people can talk to them and even spy on them. If it’s a possibility and it hasn’t been fixed, it should be banned.
With everything that happens in the world, on a daily basis, is there such a thing as being too safe when it comes to your children? That’s for you to decide about your children.
Germany said “This is also about protecting the weakest members of society.” Anyone that has a problem with that is someone that doesn’t have kids or wants one for bad reasons.
Do we place too much protection around our children? More than was put on us back in the day? Of course we do, because we live in a completely different world now.
Technology has brought some really great advances for us to take advantage of. That doesn’t mean that every breakthrough is used with good intentions.
Defenders of Cayla said that “The hacking example highlighted here is an isolated case which has been carried out on a specific, individual device by a specialist team using developer software.” The reality though is if there is one that is known about, there are hundreds or more that are not known about. Once someone finds a way in they share that info with other hackers.
OK, that’s a movie and not reality, but Chucky was what every kid wanted, until he came to life and started killing people. That wouldn’t happen with Cayla, or could it?