Nowhere is safe: Even your sex toys are spying on you

On top of hackers, breaches and malware, now you've got spying sex toys to worry about. We look at the latest data privacy scandal.

What are the data security risks involved with sex toys?

Your privacy and security are critical in all aspects of life, but nowhere more so than the bedroom. So when a sex toy manufacturer displays a worrying attitude towards data security, it raises grave concerns about its respect for customers.

Standard Innovation, the company that produces the We-Vibe range of sex toys, has recently agreed to pay $3.7 million dollars to customers as part of a settlement, Forbes reports. This covers payouts of up to $10,000 each for customers who had used the We-Connect control app with their toy. Why? Because the company, working in a market where discretion and reassurance are so important, had exposed their customers to a massive violation of privacy and security.

We-Vibe flaunts its customers' desire for privacy

There were two major problems with the We-Vibe and its accompanying app - one of which was an intentional decision on the part of Standard Innovation. In 2016 two hackers revealed that the We-Connect app was spying on its users on behalf of the company.

There were two major problems with the We-Connect app - one of which was intentional.

The app collects data and sends it back to Standard Industries. It measures the temperature of the device every minute, and any changes made to its vibration settings. With these two pieces of information, the Guardian explains, it's pretty easy to figure out when, and how, someone's using their vibrator - the sort of intimate details that many users would be unhappy sharing.

Standard Innovation said that this data is collected anonymously and in aggregate form, and is used for market research - to figure out how people are using their toys and what settings or features are most popular. While the intention of improving the user experience isn't in itself a bad thing, this is an example of a poor way to go about it.

Even when sex toys aren't involved, recording your customers' data is a cause for concern.Even when sex toys aren't involved, recording your customers' data is a cause for concern.

Lacking in the security department

On top of the issue of collecting user data, the We-Vibe app also had several security vulnerabilities, the Guardian reports. The hackers announced that the connection between the app and the vibrator wasn't secure, and could be hacked by anyone within Bluetooth range. This would let the hacker take control of the vibrator, setting it off without the user's consent.

Taking remote control of a sex toy has potential to cause serious harm, and could be considered sexual assault, the hackers said at the 2016 Def Con hacking conference. The potential for others to gain access to the information the We-Connect was recording could also be a possibility.

Vibrators are just the latest device to be at risk from hackers.Vibrators are just the latest device to be at risk from hackers.

Standard Innovation has taken steps to amend its poor decisions, most notably with the cash payouts to unhappy customers. The company also issued an update to its privacy notice that explains that the data it collects, though extremely intimate, is anonymous, and that customers using the We-Connect app don't have to provide names, contact details or any personally identifying information - however the data it collects does include the hardware and OS of the device used, IP address, and the date and time the We-Connect app accesses its servers. This, combined with the analytical information the sex toy collects, may still present too much of an intrusion for some users. The We-Connect app does give users the ability to opt out of the data sharing.

We-Vibe's website also says that the company has enhanced the We-Connect's security, although it does not go into detail on what this means.

The spying sex toy fiasco is another reminder that too few businesses respect your privacy, or are willing to take the necessary steps to ensure your security. SafeSwiss takes these things seriously, which is why we offer a top-quality, military-grade encryption app for all your private communication. We want your business to stay your business - especially when that business is personal.