Chastity Belt Ransomware: How Hackers Held People’s Genitals Hostage
Imagine sitting there one day, minding your own business, wearing your Internet-connected chastity belt as you always do, when a message arrives from a hacker. The message tells you that your chastity belt or cage is locked so that you can’t access your genitals and that your only recourse would be to pay 0.02 Bitcoin, which is around $750.
That would constitute a bad day. After all, your genitals aren’t like your social media accounts. At least, they shouldn’t be. You can always delete your social media accounts should they become compromised. But your genitals? Deleting them may be a bit more complicated.
Well, recently Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai described for VICE such ransomware attempts. Apparently, hackers took advantage of a security hole in Cellmates. In this case, Cellmates weren’t prison roommates or cellphones serving as mates. Rather, these Cellmates were Internet of Things chastity cages made by Qiui, a company based in China. Hackers exploited existing holes to try to control these chastity cages and lock them remotely. Victims would then get wonderful messages like, "Your rock is mine now," except the word wasn’t “rock” and instead was a word that rhymed with “rock” and referred to male genitalia (but could also have meant “rooster.”) If the chastity belt or cage wearers did not pay the demanded ransom, they and their genitals could have been stuck in the cage indefinitely or at least until they visited a doctor, a hardware store, or someone with a real space laser.
Hmmm, it sort of looks like an electric shaver or a microphone but shouldn’t be confused for either. Singing karaoke into a chastity belt may bring some interesting looks and is not going to make your rendition of Dua Lipa’s “Break My Heart” sound better. As the Tweet thread indicated, there is some debate over whether a screwdriver alone could get you out of such devices should they be locked. In other words, how screwed would you be when such a thing were to happens? Nevertheless, having your genitals locked away even for a temporary period of time could be a rather harrowing experience.All of this may prompt a lot of questions, depending on who you happen to be, such as “what the heck is a chastity belt and why would you wear one,” or “what the heck is an Internet-connected chastity belt,” or “who uses these,” or “how do I get one,” or “can such a device be used to Tweet or send email,” or “how does this connect with Siri or Alexa and will there be problem if I say, ‘Alexa, show me a slow cooker recipe from Allrecipes’?" So many questions.
Well, chastity belts in general seem to have been around for quite a long time. Humans have a long history of putting their genitals in all sports of things. Such a belt is not simply a fashion statement (as in ”does this chastity belt go with my skinny jeans”) but instead is designed to go around your genitals and, when locked, prevents access to your privates. There’s a history of people reportedly wearing or being forced by jealous lovers or overprotective parents to wear chastity belts in order to prevent sexual intercourse, according to Kate Goldblaum writing for Live Science. There are also reports of chastity belts being used as torture devices. Keep in mind (or maybe privates) that the history of such belts is controversial and not completely clear, as Marissa Fessenden has detailed for the Smithsonian magazine.
Regardless, in recent years, members of the BDSM community have been using chastity belts in different ways. BDSM doesn’t stand for Big Doughnuts and Sautéed Marshmallows but instead represents the practices of Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, Sadochism and Masochism. Those who practice BDSM may use chastity belts to exert dominance or control over a partner. It can prevent access and even prevent men from having erections. In this way, such devices can be quite hard-hitting, so to speak.
Speaking of control, nowadays more and more devices in general are Internet-connected, allowing the remote control of such devices. For example, rather than push a vacuum cleaner, you can ask one to clean up from afar. You can even use remote control to fly a helicopter that’s shaped like a curse word so that you show that you don’t give a flying you-know-what about something.
Sex toys like chastity cages are no exception. You can see the potential uses of such remote control. Telling your partner “honey, I am on my way home. Hope you miss me,” takes on new meaning when you can control your partner’s privates from afar. However, allowing remote control does allow the not necessarily remote chance that a stranger can control your device as well. And as the Cellmate hacking incidents have shown, such stranger things can happen. Indeed, Internet-connected sex toys can leave you exposed in more ways than one. And hackers can bring new meaning to the John Mayer song, “Your Body Is a Wonderland.”
Of course, the words “hack” and “your genitals” are rarely good words to see together, no matter how you define the word “hack.” Your genitals may not have an Ethernet port (if they do, see your doctor immediately) or WiFi capabilities (if they do, makes sure that it is a secure network). Nevertheless, using Internet-connected sex toys in effect connects your genitals to the Internet. And having your genitals on the Internet in any way can be a bad thing.
Therefore, before you use any sex toy that’s connected to an app, a computer, or any remote device in any way, make sure that you understand the cybersecurity that’s in place. Treat a sex toy as you would a laptop, a smartphone, or any other such device. That doesn’t mean that you should start using your sex toy to take notes, join a Zoom call, or send messages (that’s not what’s meant by sexting). It does mean though that you should scrutinize your sex toy’s security. You should be worried about potential holes, holes in security that is. What exploitable flaws might the device have and how can you keep them covered? What are the options should hijacking attempts be made? What help services are available? And if you do need some help, how long will you be kept on hold?
Romance and loving do get much more complicated when the Internet is involved. Life isn’t as simple as it is in rom-coms. After all, Julia Roberts didn’t quite tell Hugh Grant in the movie Notting Hill: “I'm also just a girl standing in front of a boy asking him for the code to his Internet-connected chastity belt.”
Post Original: Forbes