Welcome!

Cloud Security Authors: John Walsh, Liz McMillan, Mehdi Daoudi, Kevin Jackson, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: @ThingsExpo, Cloud Security

@ThingsExpo: Article

IoT and Hello Barbie | @ThingsExpo #IoT #M2M #API #InternetOfThings

Hello Barbie™! is an IoT-enabled Barbie Doll with blonde hair, blue eyes and a built-in surveillance system

Five Things You Should Know About Hello Barbie!

Hello Barbie™! is an IoT-enabled (Internet of Things) Barbie Doll with blonde hair, blue eyes and a built-in surveillance system. She’s not the first of her kind (and she won’t be the last), but here’s what you should know about bringing it, or any connected device, into your home.

Everything that connects to the public Internet is vulnerable. Encryption does not solve the problem. While it is true that you need about 6.4 billion years to crack a 2048-bit PGP encrypted file, I can probably socially engineer you out of your encryption key by attaching a little piece of malware to an email that offers you two discounted Super Bowl tickets and a deal on a hotel.

In practice, no one, not even the very best whitehat hackers, can predict how clever or innovative blackhat hackers will become, or what kind of unexpected new hacks will evolve. Interestingly, there are two immutable facts of digital life: (1) Everything that can be connected will be connected. (2) Everything that can be hacked will be hacked. This is where Hello Barbie! gets in trouble. But it shouldn’t. Hello Barbie! is not a Barbie Doll; it’s a connected device. Here’s what you need to know:

1 – Barbie Is Not Smart, but She Is Connected
In order to have a conversation with you, Hello Barbie! has to connect to ToyTalk, Inc.’s servers. This requires, in most cases, a WiFi connection and access to the public Internet. How secure is this connection? A better question is, how secure is your home WiFi network (or the public one you’re using to connect the doll)? If you don’t know the answer, Hello Barbie! is not your problem. Your computers, game consoles, the thermostat on your wall or your connected doorbell poses a greater danger to your cyber-safety.

2 – She’s Not “Always On”
Contrary to sensationalist reports, Hello Barbie! cannot listen to you unless you press the “talk” button. Then, and only then, your voice is recorded, encrypted and transmitted via the public Internet to a remote server (the “cloud”) where the audio file of your voice is stored. The file is stored, and anonymized versions are shared with third-party vendors because the machine-learning tools that Mattel and ToyTalk, Inc. are using “learn” from each interaction with real people. The machine-learning algorithms must be “trained” in order to improve. I wrote an article that may help you better understand this process entitled “Can Machines Really Learn?

3 – Barbie Really Can’t Talk; She Responds
After your voice file is received by ToyTalk, Inc.’s servers, it is analyzed (as quickly as possible) by a natural language processing (NLP) algorithm that attempts to understand what you have said. Then, the algorithm makes its best guess at the most appropriate response from a relatively small list (about 8,000 possible responses – get the full list here), and when you release the button, Hello Barbie! will “talk” to you by playing back the pre-recorded response the algorithm has chosen. You can think of Hello Barbie! as a crippled Siri, OK Google, Cortana or Alexa with very strict response guidelines.

4 – She’s Got a Good Memory for Networking
Hello Barbie! connects to any WiFi network. To accomplish this, you press and hold the power button and the talk button for three seconds until the doll’s necklace flashes white. Then, you launch the Hello Barbie! companion app and enter your network credentials. Like your smartphone, Hello Barbie! can store (remember) WiFi networks it has successfully connected to in the past and automatically connect to them. This is a very convenient feature. For the uninitiated, even this simple connection process is painful. Importantly, Hello Barbie! cannot be used by anyone (owner or hacker) when it is not connected.

5 – She’s a Great Target for Hackers
Maybe. Here’s what a hacker would need to do. First, infiltrate the WiFi network where the Hello Barbie! is being used. Then, figure out a way to store malware in the device. Some good ideas for doing harm include defeating the talk button and getting control of the transducer. This way a hacker could listen to every conversation. Alternatively, a hacker could just copy the audio files from each interaction, or worse, a hacker could use counterfeit servers to replace ToyTalk, Inc.’s servers and trick the user into interacting with the hacker. But here’s the important thing: if a hacker wanted to do harm to someone using digital tools, there are much, much easier ways. Hacking Hello Barbie! is not the path of least resistance, and the value (since no financial or account information is stored in the device) is minimal.

You could argue that recording a child’s conversation with an imaginary friend (albeit an anthropomorphized one) might yield incriminating or useful information about things going on in the household, or something even more nefarious. But it’s 50 times easier to activate the microphone and webcam on an average WiFi-connected laptop (without the user’s knowledge) than it would be to hack this doll. And the results of a dropcam or webcam hack would yield much more usable data.

The Bottom Line
Hello Barbie! is no more dangerous than any smart device you bring into your home. That said, manufacturers need to heed this tale. Mattel has taken some serious flak over its perceived (and in some cases real) lack of security protocols. While any motivated hacker could (and would) have a field day with Hello Barbie!, most motivated hackers can have a field day with a connected toaster oven. That’s what hackers do.

My best advice is to use Hello Barbie! as directed AND do what parents have been doing from the beginning of time: watch your kids. Would you let your 14-year-old daughter entertain a 16-year-old boy in her room with the door closed? Then why would you let any child be connected to the public Internet without adult supervision? Remember, Hello Barbie! is not a Barbie Doll; it’s a connected device. Treat it like one, and everything else will take care of itself.

The post 5 Things You Should Know About Hello Barbie! originally appeared here on Shelly Palmer

More Stories By Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the host of Fox Television’s "Shelly Palmer Digital Living" television show about living and working in a digital world. He is Fox 5′s (WNYW-TV New York) Tech Expert and the host of United Stations Radio Network’s, MediaBytes, a daily syndicated radio report that features insightful commentary and a unique insiders take on the biggest stories in technology, media, and entertainment.

@ThingsExpo Stories
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
It is of utmost importance for the future success of WebRTC to ensure that interoperability is operational between web browsers and any WebRTC-compliant client. To be guaranteed as operational and effective, interoperability must be tested extensively by establishing WebRTC data and media connections between different web browsers running on different devices and operating systems. In his session at WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, Dr. Alex Gouaillard, CEO and Founder of CoSMo Software, presented ...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
WebRTC is great technology to build your own communication tools. It will be even more exciting experience it with advanced devices, such as a 360 Camera, 360 microphone, and a depth sensor camera. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Masashi Ganeko, a manager at INFOCOM Corporation, introduced two experimental projects from his team and what they learned from them. "Shotoku Tamago" uses the robot audition software HARK to track speakers in 360 video of a remote party. "Virtual Teleport" uses a multip...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
An increasing number of companies are creating products that combine data with analytical capabilities. Running interactive queries on Big Data requires complex architectures to store and query data effectively, typically involving data streams, an choosing efficient file format/database and multiple independent systems that are tied together through custom-engineered pipelines. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Tomer Levi, a senior software engineer at Intel’s Advanced Analytics gr...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things’). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing? IoT is not about the devices, it’s about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. In his session at Internet of Things at Cloud Expo | DXWor...
Everything run by electricity will eventually be connected to the Internet. Get ahead of the Internet of Things revolution. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Akvelon expert and IoT industry leader Sergey Grebnov provided an educational dive into the world of managing your home, workplace and all the devices they contain with the power of machine-based AI and intelligent Bot services for a completely streamlined experience.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone inn...