There's a funny piece of footage circulating the internet at the moment of a children's toy robot rocking back and forth and swearing its ass off. The toucan-shaped toy is from Teksta and is heard to say "wanker" and "twat" over and over again as it nods and waves its wings around.
In the UK, those are pretty bad swear words. If you're being called a "wanker", somebody is annoyed with you, to say the least. They are not words you'd expect to hear from the Queen.
You may have already seen it in action. If not, here it is in full, sweary glory.
It's not the only toy that's doing it. Earlier this year, footage of "My Friend Cayla" circulated on YouTube, in which Cayla threatened to "kick the shit out of you" in response to someone saying "hello".
So far, so funny. But why are they doing this?
Well, the answer is that they are surprisingly easy to hack. So much so, in fact, that those responsible for hacking the Toucan are warning parents to return it to the manufacturer post-haste. Not only can you hack its output, it's possible to gain access to its internal microphone, theoretically making it useful to anyone wishing to spy on your home.
Security researchers at Pen Tech Partners hacked the toys to highlight the flaws in their design. The first method of "hacking" the Toucan is so easy even your great grandpa could do it, and we don't mean your great grandpa who was an electrical engineer. We mean the other one, who asks you how to operate the remote every Christmas.
All you need to do is pair any device with it via Bluetooth and play any mp3 file you like, using the Toucan as a novelty speaker, Pen Tech explain on their website. The more complicated method involves extracting the toy's Android package and switching the mp3 files with whichever sweary song pleases you the most. Recommend your own in the comments.
Where it becomes sinister, however, is that through several simple steps it's possible to turn the toys into a listening device.
What should you do if you're concerned about your child's toys? The research company recommends of the Toucan toy:
"Parents: don’t buy these toys. If you have one already, I suggest returning it to the retailer. If you want to keep it, only allow the toy to be used under close parental supervision and ensure it is switched off when not in use."
They're also calling for retailers to ban smart toys that "allow trivial snooping on our kids", urging manufacturers to "take even the most basic steps towards securing smart toys" to prevent these kinds of attacks from happening.
Cayla, the toy above that threatened to kick the shit out of you, is already banned in Germany.