VTech hack included children’s pictures and chat logs (Update 1)

Lorenzo Franceshi-Bicchierai has a follow-up to his early report on VTECH:

Over the weekend, the hacker, who asked to remain anonymous, told me that VTech left other sensitive data exposed on its servers, including kids’ photos and chat logs between children and parents. This data is from the company’s Kid Connect, a service that allows parents using a smartphone app to chat with their kids using a VTech tablet. In online tutorials, the company encourages parents and kids to take headshots and use them in their apps.

Read more on Motherboard.

The VTech hack is getting a lot of mainstream media attention, and understandably so,  as it’s a cautionary tale. But keep in mind that so far, it doesn’t sound like this hacker has any intention of misusing the data. If s/he did, it would have been put up for sale and not helpfully disclosed to Motherboard. It sounds like the hacker wants to make a point about security. Yes, it’s still a crime, and everyone – company and parents – need to be more cautious going forward, but it’s not clear what the real and imminent risk is from this particular hack.

Update: Note that as of yesterday, Vtech reported that:

In total 4,854,209 customer (parent) accounts and 6,368,509 related kid profiles worldwide are affected, which includes approximately 1.2 million Kid Connect parent accounts.  In addition, there are 235,708 parent and 227,705 kids accounts in PlanetVTech. Kid profiles unlike account profiles only include name, gender and birthdate.

But with respect to images and chat logs, they were reporting:

9. Can you confirm that the hacker has taken photos and chats of children and their parents on Kid Connect, as reported by Motherboard? 

As the investigation is on-going, we cannot confirm at this stage. However, we can confirm these images are encrypted by AES128.

10. There are also claims that chat logs and audio files on Kid Connect were leaked. Can you confirm this as well? Why did you store chat logs, and other data, on your servers, rather than just locally on devices? 

As the investigation is on-going, we cannot confirm at this stage. However, audio files are encrypted by AES128, whereas chat logs are not encrypted.  Kid Connect is similar to a WhatsApp service. Our security protocols require that only undelivered messages are stored temporarily in our server. These messages are set to expire in 30 days.

I expect we’ll see another update to their FAQ. They are still behind the 8-ball as the hacker releases information to Motherboard.


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