Smart toys and hackers steal over $300 million


Smart toys powered by super computers

Photo credits: Mashable
Photo credits: Mashable

Folks, say hello to the CogniToy.  CogniToy is the first in an upcoming series of smart toys planned by start-up Elemental Path that seem like they’re from the future. How does it work? There are 2 steps involved. The 1st step is simply pressing the big blue button in it’s belly and saying something to it. The 2nd step is where the CogniToy listens and then gives a unique response because it’s connected to IBM’s Watson Supercomputer via the cloud.

Yup, kids these days have toys that are powered by supercomputers! Like we said it’s like they’re from the future. Let’s take a moment for all this to sink in. Okay so moving on, the toy can learn a child’s preferences, like favourite colour, and then use it to deliver age-appropriate content such as jokes and quizzes. This process doesn’t stop so as the child grows, so does the CogniToy.

A toy powered by a supercomputer that can grow with us makes the little kid in us ecstatic. However, there is the privacy issue as the CogniToy collects data on a child’s personality. Next-gen privacy issues with a next-gen toy.

So how much does a single CogniToy cost? Well according to it’s Kickstarter page, you can grab one at the modest price of $99. Yes it’s expensive but then again, haven’t all cool toys been expensive?

Hackers steal over $300 million in a grand bank heist

Give a man a gun and he can rob a bank.  Give a man a computer and he can rob many banks. This is precisely what a group of hackers dubbed “Carbanak cybergang” for the malware they used, did over the last two years. Kaspersky which discovered the threat, estimates that the hackers stole $300 million. However the figure is difficult to verify because the hackers stuck to steal small amounts exceeding no more than $10 million at a time. So it could be even triple that number.

Furthermore, while it is known most targets were in Russia, there were many banks in the US, Japan and Europe affected as well but the banks seem to remain silent to the public. No bank wants to admit their impregnable systems got cracked and nobody saw it for 2 years.

So how did the Carbanak gang pull it off? It took 3 simple and time consuming steps.

  • Step 1 involved taking control of administrator PC’s by sending emails infected with the Carbanak malware to employees in the target bank.
  • The 2nd step involved learning the banks procedures by recording keystrokes and taking screenshots of the systems while they were in action.
  • The final step was simply stealing the money by mimicking a bank procedure in a variety of ways. An example being simply using e-payment systems to send money to accounts overseas.

This grand heist serves as a grim reminder to what we knew already. Criminals are becoming smarter, deadlier and are willing to wait because no system is impenetrable and once they gain access, the consequences are heavy.


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