SexTech: The Evolution of Sex Toys (ESET White Paper)

ESET has published a White Paper on their study on the potential security and safety flaws of connected sex toys. The title of the report is “Sex in the Digital Era – How secure are smart sex toys?” and here is an excerpt on the evolution of sex toys.

“Sex in the Digital Era - How secure are smart sex toys?” is an ESET Research White Paper published by Denise Giusto and Cecilia Pastorino.

“Sex in the Digital Era – How secure are smart sex toys?” is an ESET Research White Paper published by Denise Giusto and Cecilia Pastorino.

As IoT (Internet of Things) devices continue to seep into our homes and offer an increasingly wide range of features, new concerns are beginning to arise about the security of the data processed by these devices.

Though they have been subject to countless security breaches leading to the exposure of people’s login details, financial information, and geographical location, among others, there are few kinds of data with more potential to harm users, if published, than those relating to their sexual behavior.

With new models of smart toys for adults entering the market all the time, we might imagine that progress is being made in strengthening the mechanisms to ensure good practices in the processing of user information.

However, our research shows that we are a long way from being able to live out our sexuality through digital media without exposing ourselves to the risk of cyberattack.

Today, these findings are more relevant than ever, since we are seeing a rapid rise in sex toy sales as a reflection of the current health situation around the world and the social distancing measures related to COVID-19.

Though many experts have devoted time to identifying and reporting security flaws within this industry, with every passing year these devices incorporate an ever wider range of features: Group chats, multimedia messages, videoconferencing, synchronisation with lists of songs or audio books, and much more.

Each time their code is re-engineered, some vulnerabilities are corrected, new vulnerabilities may be created, and many more remain unchanged in the updated versions.

Read about the evolution of sex toys below.

The Evolution of Sex Toys

Many consumers see adult toys as a new trend resulting from the new, inescapable fusion of society andntechnology in the computer era, but in reality these devices have been around for more than a century.

In her book “The Technology of Orgasm: Hysteria, the Vibrator, and Women’s Sexual Satisfaction”, Rachel P. Maines describes how her research led her to find advertisements for vibrators in popular magazines dating back as far as 1906.

In the early days, embedded in a context where all female sexual behavior that could not be understood from a male-centric perspective was considered unhealthy, these devices were promoted as medical devices designed to cure “female hysteria”, otherwise known as “disease of the uterus”, which was believed to be a chronic disorder common among women.

The treatment for this “ailment” was “known” as far back as the year 1600 and revolved around genital massages carried out by a physician or midwife, culminating in a climax or “hysterical paroxysm”: The female orgasm.

So, according to Maines, the first vibrators emerged as a capitalist mechanism to maximise the number of patients that could be treated per day, by reducing the average time needed for each consultation — which had previously been something like an hour—to about ten minutes.

This analysis is disputed.

Fifteen years after the first electromechanical vibrator was invented (in the 1880s), dozens of new manufacturers were producing models powered either by cable or battery.

Although the vibrator’s original development is associated with the denial of women’s sexuality, its arrival brought with it the possibility of self-discovery for many, at a time when masturbation was considered an abnormal behavior.

Alongside the revolution brought about by feminist movements, as well as the growth of the pornography industry, new shapes, materials, and features were added to the original vibrators, which evolved from being seen as medical devices and became a form of sexual liberation.

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