Smart toys 'could leave children vulnerable to strangers'

How safe is your child? Best-selling smart toys have 'worrying security failures' that let strangers talk to your little ones

The investigation found that people could use a toy to communicate with a child in four out of the seven devices tested.

Furby Connect, the i-Que robot, Cloudpets and Toy-fi Teddy.

The toys don't require any authentication when customers connect the toys to Bluetooth, which creates security issues, Which? said.

Very little technical know-how was needed to gain access to the toys to start sharing messages with a child.

The UK distributor behind i-Que also said there's been no reports of anyone maliciously abusing the toy's Bluetooth connectivity, Which? said.

The toy is made by Genesis Toys, the same manufacturer as the Cayla doll which was recently banned in Germany due to security and hacking concerns. Both toys are distributed in the United Kingdom by Vivid.

The consumer body, whose resident hackers found they could easily send text and audio messages through the toys, notes that while Bluetooth is typically limited to a distance of 10 metres, the range could be extended and picked up by hackers further away.

The FBI suggests that adults research any Wi-Fi or Bluetooth-enabled toys before giving them to a child, and that if they do have them, to take proper measures to secure them.

How safe is your child? Best-selling smart toys have 'worrying security failures' that let strangers talk to your little ones
Which? Has Warned Retailers About Connected Toys Because of 'Worrying' Security

Toy-fi Teddy, available from Amazon, is a teddy that allows a child to send and receive personal recorded messages over Bluetooth via a smartphone or tablet app. The Bluetooth feature lacks any authentication protection, however, meaning hackers can send voice messages to a child and receive answers back.

Alex Neill, managing director of home products and services for Which?, said: "Connected toys are becoming increasingly popular, but as our investigation shows, anyone considering buying one should apply a level of caution".

Security researchers teamed up with German consumer group Stiftung Warentest and product comparison website Which? to conduct a safety review of toys that could be on your kids' must-have list this Christmas. "If that can't be guaranteed, then the products should not be sold".

That's something that's especially concerning when kids' toys are involved, and Which? has asked retailers to stop selling the ones that have "proven" problems where security is concerned.

A spokesperson for Argos said: "The safety of the products we sell is extremely important to us. We haven't received any complaints about these products but we are in close contact with the manufacturers, who are already looking into [these] recommendations".

Hasbro, maker of Furby Connect, one of the toys identified in the Which? report, says the company takes children's security very seriously, but that it is highly unlikely that their toy would actually be manipulated.

"These features could put the privacy and safety of children at risk due to the large amount of personal information that may be unwittingly disclosed", the Federal Bureau of Investigation said, according to NBC News.

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