In a certain corner of the sex toy world, apps are all the rage. There's been Lovely, a cock ring that promises to bring the principles of quantified life to the bedroom; BlueMotion, OhMiBod's foray into teledildonics; and mostly recently, REMOJI, PicoBong's app-enabled sex toy ecosystem, which comes complete with its own ugly yellow cartoon mascot.
And all signs point to this trend continuing, offering up wilder and wackier ways for us to connect our phones to the gadgets connected to our genitals. Naturally, they'll be hacked.
I've never been that big a fan of these products, mostly because I think they're really, really dumb. Sex is supposed to be about connecting, physically and emotionally, to another person (or people), not connecting to the internet. Bringing a phone into the equation seems like a really great way to kill the mood. But it turns out that the boner-killing power of smartphones isn't the only reason to be wary of internet-enabled vibrators: There's also the fact that they pose a genuine security risk.
This spokescharacter is rather unsettling, let's be honest.
Last month, a team of cyber security researchers successfully hacked an internet-enabled vibrator at the CeBIT tech fair in Hanover Germany, showing off their ability to remotely control the device (which, according to reports, was large and neon pink).
At first blush, this might not seem like that big a deal: While a hacked car could lead to a remote driver causing your violent, untimely death in a fiery crash, a hacked vibrator will, what? Not vibrate to your exact specifications? Get you off slightly slower than you'd prefer? Stop working entirely and torture you with extended sexual frustration?
Actually, try compromise your security and potentially leak your most sensitive data to malicious hackers and potential identity thieves. Last year, a Forbes piece discussed the possibility of Lovense teledildonics toys leaving their users' data vulnerable, opening up all sorts of sexts and nudie videos to any hacker interested in prying. But the threat extends beyond the data directly associated with your souped-up pleasure product: it's possible that a sex toy company's shoddy security could compromise much more than just some info about how fast and hard you like your fuck toys.
Since vibrator manufacturers tend to be underfunded companies, the chances of a digital security expert coming on board are, well, pretty slim.
As munin from Brown Hat Security explained to me, the fundamental issue is that sex toys are quickly becoming tiny computers. In one nightmare scenario, a poorly secured vibrator could become a portal for malware, which could then find its way to your phone or computer (and the rest of your data) the next time you happen to connect to your home network.
This isn't an issue that's limited to sex toys. It's actually a widespread problem across the entire Internet of Things, even tormenting tech darlings like Tesla and FitBit. But since vibrator manufacturers tend to be underfunded companies more focused on getting you off than keeping your data locked down, the chances of a digital security expert coming on board at OhMiBod are, well, pretty slim.
And if sex toy companies continue to enhance their products with wifi bells and whistles without keeping their security top notch, that could quickly become a pretty serious problem. As vibrators with shoddy encryption and hastily put together codebases begin to flood the market, bedrooms around the world could quickly become filled with vulnerable entry points (and not the ones those dildos and butt plugs were originally intended to pleasure). And if that happens, well, an app-enabled evening of pleasure could pretty easily turn into a chance for a hacker to run roughshod over your private info.
But the good news is there are plenty of safe alternatives already on the market. You know, the same app-free, unconnected vibrators most of us have been using to get off for years. Sure, they can't be remotely controlled by a partner half a world away, and they won't groove to the beat of a horrific yellow blob. But they're also not about to turn your erotic evening into an identity theft nightmare, which seems like a pretty fair trade off.