Lioness This story is part of CES 2020, our complete coverage of the showroom floor and the hottest new tech gadgets around. Sex tech took over CES in Las Vegas last week, with vibrators, Kegel trainers and even a Band-Aid-esque patch to prevent premature ejaculation on display.
Almost all of these devices connect to apps, and many collect data. But what happens when sex tech or the apps that power them get hacked?
This year, more than 20 billion connected devices will be installed worldwide, including sex tech products with apps that monitor orgasms, save vibration patterns, or let you connect with your long-distance partner’s pleasure gadget. Since most operate over a Bluetooth connection and with an app, breaches are possible and even likely.
The good news: some established vendors in the sex tech space are taking security seriously — or at least are trying to. There are consequences to inaction. A high-profile lawsuit in 2016 accused sex tech company We-Vibe of transmitting user preferences, usage data and email addresses to its servers without consent. The company settled the case for $3.75 million in 2017.
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Security is top of mind for companies that have seen the impact of lawsuits or breaches, said Nicole Schwartz, a researcher for Internet of Dongs, which pairs security pros with sex tech vendors to find vulnerabilities in devices. But generally speaking, when it comes to security, sex tech products are “all over the map,” she added.
Sex tech tends to fall into three categories, said Schwartz: products from established players with technology backgrounds; products conceptualized by one person who then exports the designing and manufacturing to a third party; and novelty products brought to market quickly to make fast cash.
“Two out of three of these companies are not conscientious about security,” Schwartz said. “The ones you are going to see at CES are obviously a little more tech-minded, so you’re seeing a particularly biased section of the market.”