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There’s nothing funny about hackers cracking web-connected sex toys

Published Mar 16th, 2016 3:45PM EDT

With so many other hacking threats out there, you probably don’t believe that hackers breaking into Internet-connected sex toys is a big deal. However, this is a serious matter, as cybercriminals are targeting more and more products that are connected to the Internet to steal or temporarily hijack data.

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To prove that everything that’s connected to the Internet is susceptible to attacks, Trend Micro spokesman Udo Schneider surprised journalists at a news conference by turning on a “large, neon-pink vibrator” by “typing out a few lines of code on his laptop,” as Reuters describes it.

“If I hack a vibrator it’s just fun,” Trend Micro CTO Raimund Genes told reporters at CeBIT in Hanover. “But if I can get to the back-end, I can blackmail the manufacturer.”

Reuters explains that various German businesses, hospitals and even the government were targeted by hackers in the recent past.

In 2014, a German steel mill suffered “massive damage,” after attackers got into the computer network. Last year, the lower house of parliament in Germany was attacked by hackers, who forced it to shut down the system for a few days.

In recent weeks, German hospitals have been attacked by ransomware, that deadly malware program that encrypts data on computers until a ransom is paid. Such ransomware attacks are getting more and more frequent.

Therefore, the fact that a skilled attacker can turn on a vibrator remotely is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to online security. Hackers can do a lot more damage than that once they figure a way inside a target’s computer. Incidentally, that’s why strong security and unhackable encryption are must-have features in today’s devices.

Reuters goes on to say that 51% of companies in Germany have been victims of digital espionage, data theft or sabotage in the past two years, with the number going up to two-thirds for small-to-medium-sized manufacturers.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.