February 28th, 2017, 18:09 PM
CloudPets stuffed toys leak details of half a million users
The personal information of more than half a million people who bought internet-connected fluffy animals has been compromised.
The details, which include email addresses and passwords, were leaked along with access to profile pictures and more than 2m voice recordings of children and adults who had used the CloudPets stuffed toys.
The US company’s toys can connect over Bluetooth to an app to allow a parent to upload or download audio messages for their child.
CloudPets’s chief executive, Mark Myers, denied that voice recordings were stolen in a statement to NetworkWorld magazine. “Were voice recordings stolen? Absolutely not.” He added: “The headlines that say 2m messages were leaked on the internet are completely false.” Myers also told NetworkWorld that when Motherboard raised the issue with CloudPets, “we looked at it and thought it was a very minimal issue”. Myers added that a hacker would only be able to access the sound recordings if they managed to guess the password. When the Guardian tried to contact Myers on Tuesday, emails to CloudPets’s official contact address were returned as undeliverable.
CloudPets’s denial that voice recordings were “stolen” likely refers to the fact that the voice recordings were not contained in the exfiltrated database. It is possible to access the voice recordings without any authentication if you know the exact URL at which they are stored – something that can be gleaned by examining the app when a user is logged in. But the company had extremely lax password requirements (even officially recommending a password of “qwe” in a tutorial video), meaning that a large number of passwords could be “cracked” even given the secure method with which they were stored.
As such, it would be trivial for an attacker to access the voice recordings for users with simple passwords such as 123456 or cloudpets, but those with unique secure passwords could be covered in the case of a remote attack.
Troy Hunt, owner of data breach monitoring service Have I Been Pwned, drew attention to the breach, which he first became aware of in mid-February. At that point, more than half a million records were being traded online. Hunt’s own source had first attempted to contact CloudPets in late December, but also received no response. While the database had been connected to the internet, it had more than 800,000 user records in it, suggesting that the data dump Hunt received is just a fraction of the full information potentially stolen.
The personal information was contained in a database connected directly to the internet, with no usernames or passwords preventing any visitor from accessing all the data. A week after Hunt’s contact first attempted to alert CloudPets, the original databases were deleted, and a ransom demand was left, and a week after that, no remaining databases were publicly accessible. CloudPets has not notified users of the hack.
Hunt argues the security flaws should undercut the entire premise of connected toys. “It only takes one little mistake on behalf of the data custodian – such as misconfiguring the database security – and every single piece of data they hold on you and your family can be in the public domain in mere minutes.
“If you’re fine with your kids’ recordings ending up in unexpected places then so be it, but that’s the assumption you have to work on because there’s a very real chance it’ll happen. There’s no doubt whatsoever in my mind that there are many other connected toys out there with serious security vulnerabilities in the services that sit behind them. Inevitably, some would already have been compromised and the data taken without the knowledge of the manufacturer or parents.”
John Madelin, CEO at IT security experts RelianceACSN, echoes Hunt’s warnings. “Connected toys that are easily accessible by hackers are sinister. The CloudPets issue highlights the fact that manufacturers of connected devices really struggle to bake security in from the start. The 2.2m voice recordings were stored online, but not securely, along with email addresses and passwords of 800,000 users, this is unforgivable.”