The sale of sex toys grew by 50% in relation to 2019. The category of these connected devices is called “teledildonics”. They are gaining popularity as part of the concept “sexnology”: a combination of sex and technology
By Julieta SchulkinNovember 8, 2020 Share on FacebookShare Share on TwitterTweet Share on WhatsAppShare
Smart sex toys, from the Satisfyer brand, are on display at the IFA 2020 consumer technology fair, amid the COVID-19 outbreak (REUTERS / Michele Tantussi)
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered purchases of connected sex devices. According to a survey by the Gleeden platform, sales in online sex shops increased by 200% since the start of the quarantine . The percentage of growth varies according to each country, the truth is that the year 2020 has marked a milestone in this business and has awakened a global phenomenon.
In Argentina, in April, in the daily report of the Ministry of Health, the Government recommended virtual sex in the midst of mandatory isolation. They advised resorting to video calls and sexting. They also specifically recommended washing hands after masturbation and disinfecting keyboards, screens, and sex toys after masturbation.
“In the first months of the quarantine, many people wanted to put together the kit. I think it was quite key when they came out from the government with this advice so that people start to naturalize it, that it is not taboo. We meet a lot of people for the first time: 'I'm going to buy a toy for myself, I was left alone and I'm without a partner, I used to be messing around and now I can't,' for example, “Francesca Gnecchi, director of the space, told Infobae Erotique Pink and sexuality journalist.
On the other hand, he highlighted the couples who were separated during the quarantine. “So devices were bought where you download an app and play. Or each one, for example, has a toy at home and through virtual sex they are guided in what to do with the toy, “he added. And he remarked that the sale of sex toys grew by 50% in relation to 2019.
Large technology fairs such as CES already have spaces dedicated to this type of technology (REUTERS / Nathan Frandino)
In recent decades, sex toys have been enhanced by advances in general computing. ” Today these devices incorporate a wide range of functions: group chats, multimedia messages, video conferencing, file transfer, synchronization with playlists or audiobooks, the ability to connect with Alexa and other smart assistants, the ability to relinquish control of the device to remote users, and much more ”, Denise Giusto Bilic, cybersecurity researcher at ESET Latin America, explained to Infobae .
At the company's 2021 cybersecurity trends forum, Bilic highlighted that attacks on IoT (internet of things) sexual devices will grow. “These devices, capable of being controlled through a smartphone or computer, and which can be accessed remotely through the internet, are part of the IoT phenomenon. More specifically, sex equipment that can be remotely controlled falls into the category of teledildonics, ”he said.
It is not yet known with certainty if and to what extent this type of attack has been exploited in a practical environment. According to the specialist, this occurs because, on the one hand, users tend not to report these types of incidents , and may never even notice that they have been victims of information theft . “On the other, it is extremely difficult to collect data from the same terminals since there are no security solutions for these IoT equipment , and the large number of different manufacturers, models and architectures available hinders the process,” he added.
How do they work
Lora DiCarlo Dual Stimulation Device, a Sex Device Unveiled at CES 2020 in Las Vegas (REUTERS / Nathan Frandino REUTERS / Nathan Frandino)
The era of smart sex toys is beginning . The latest advancements in the industry include models with virtual reality (VR) capabilities and artificial intelligence-powered sex robots that include cameras, microphones, and voice analysis capabilities based on artificial intelligence techniques. “The use of these robots as substitutes for sex workers in brothels is already a reality,” said the researcher.
Regarding their architecture, most of these devices can be controlled via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) from an application installed on a smartphone . In this way, the toys act as sensors, which then send information to an application installed on the phone.
This app is responsible for configuring the options on the device and controlling the user authentication process. It connects via Wi-Fi to a cloud server that stores user account information.
“Some providers offer the ability to connect to their devices by installing software on their computers and using a special BLE dongle, and the BLE API can also be used in certain browsers. These various ways in which it can connect to devices provide more flexibility, but also increase the attack surface, ”explained the cybersecurity specialist.
This architecture presents several weak points that could be used to compromise the security of the data being processed: exploiting existing vulnerabilities in the link between the app and the device, between the application and the cloud, between the remote phone and the cloud, or attacking directly to the backend . Other scenarios include using malware previously installed on the phone or taking advantage of the lack of update in the phone's operating system.
According to Bilic, the consequences of an attack could include the leak of information and the seizure of control without the consent of the team. ” In addition to concerns about data confidentiality, we must consider the possibility that vulnerabilities in the application could allow the installation of malware on the phone, arbitrary code execution or the modification of firmware in toys, ” he added.
How to protect yourself
Smart sex toys are gaining popularity as part of the concept of “sexnology” – a combination of sex and technology. These practices may have come to stay, so we must not forget the potential threats to user privacy and privacy. To minimize the risks associated with using smart sex devices, Bilic recommends:
– Avoid registering in the control applications using an official name or email address that can identify you (for example, avoid registering with email addresses that contain your first and last name, or a username that you have already used on another platform) .
– As far as possible, avoid sharing photos or videos in which the issuer can be identified. Do not publish remote control tokens on the internet.
– Some applications offer the ability to control devices locally via BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy ) without creating a user account. If you don't have the idea of allowing other users to control your device remotely over the internet, look for one of these models .
– Use smart sex toys in a protected environment and avoid using them in public places or areas with people passing through (such as hotels).
– Downloading the apps and testing their functions before purchasing the device can give you an overview of how safe the product is . Use online search engines like Google to find out if the model you are thinking of buying has had vulnerabilities in the past.
– Always protect mobile phones that are used to control these devices , keep them updated and have a security solution installed on them.
– Protect your home Wi-Fi network that is used for connection with strong passwords, securely encrypted algorithms, and regular router firmware updates.