A Mattel classic might actually be a Christmas nightmare.
For its 60th anniversary, the toy company upgraded one of its classics –the Fisher-Price Chatter telephone– with Bluetooth capabilities. Meaning, a phone intended for kids can now be used for both children and adults in order to make working phone calls. What could possibly go wrong, you ask?
Well, a few things. There’s no secure pairing process for the Bluetooth implementation, meaning audio in the Chatter could be bugged to allow someone nearby to listen in on a call or incoming conversation. When the Chatter comes on, it will connect to any Bluetooth-enabled device that requests to pair in the area. This means an apartment neighbor, someone in the next house, or someone on the street outside could potentially gain access to whoever is talking on the phone– whether that’s a child talking to their grandmother, or an adult using the toy as a novelty item to talk on the phone with friends.
While the Chatter’s Bluetooth doesn’t enable audio unless the handset is lifted or the speakerphone button pressed, this isn’t enough to deter a would-be hacker.
If the telephone is on but the handset is knocked off, the phone will automatically answer incoming calls to the connected smartphone, according to researchers. In this instance, there’s no direct action from a child or parent, but the phone might become bugged regardless.
Another instance of potential interception is possible if an attacker uses two phones (one to pair with the Chatter phone, another to call the smartphone associated with the Chatter) creating an established two-way audio stream.
Mattel has yet to comment on the Chatter’s security issue.
If you have the Bluetooth version, make sure the Chatter is powered off when not in use. Also, be sure to supervise your kids when they’re using the phone.
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