How to Hack a Sex Toy: Tech Firms Warn Public on Cyber Risks

It's not just computers and mobile phones that are vulnerable to cyber attack, according to software firm Trend Micro. As more devices are hooked up to the Internet, it could be anything from medical equipment to industrial machinery — and even sex toys.

To illustrate the point, Trend Micro spokesman Udo Schneider surprised journalists at a news conference this week by placing a large, neon-pink vibrator on the desk in front of him and then bringing it to life by typing out a few lines of code on his laptop.

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While the stunt provoked sheepish giggles, the message was sobering. As the number of smart, interactive devices connected to the Internet explodes, concern is mounting about insufficient safeguards and a lack of consumer and employee awareness.

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"If I hack a vibrator it's just fun," Raimund Genes, Chief Technology Officer at Tokyo-listed Trend Micro, told reporters at the CeBIT technology fair in Hanover, Germany.

"But if I can get to the back-end, I can blackmail the manufacturer," he added, referring to the programming system behind a device's interface.

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Germany, host of CeBIT and home to world champion manufacturers, offers rich pickings for hackers, and attacks on industrial production sites are rising, according to the government's latest IT Security Report.

In 2014, a German steel mill suffered "massive damage" following a cyber attack on the plant's network. In recent weeks, several German hospitals have come under attack from Ransomware, a virus that encrypts data on infected machines and demands that users pay to get an electronic key to unlock it.

The German government got its own wake-up call last year, when hackers attacked the lower house of parliament's computer network, forcing it to shut down the system for several days and compromising large amounts of data.