Schneier on Security
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May 11, 2007
Sex Toy Security Risk
This sounds like bullshit to me:
Small, egg-shaped and promising 'divine' vibrations, a UK sex toy has been deemed a threat to Cyprus's national security. According to the company Ann Summers, the Love Bug 2 has been banned because the Cypriot military is concerned its electronic waves would disrupt the army's radio frequencies. Operated by a remote control with a range of six metres, it is described by Ann Summers as 'deceptively powerful'. The company said: "The Love Bug 2 is available in Cyprus but we have had to put a warning out urging Cypriots not to use it."
Posted on May 11, 2007 at 12:19 PM
• 27 Comments
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This puts a whole new spin on the cliche "Make Love Not War", eh?
Wow, that's hysterical. I can already see the headlines.
"Sex toys disrupt Cypriot electronic warfare capabilities. 'Love bugs' airdropped by invading troops."
Sounds like yet another example of random, bizarre publicity being good publicity.
Maybe this explains how the Tamil Tigers have been so successful against the Sri Lankan Air Force. :)
The Register picked up this story on 1st May and have a screenshot here:
and the actual item, with "Not for use in Cyprus" tag is here:
It's true that the item and "NFUIC" tag exist but quite whether the Cypriot forces did actually contact them or not is the question. It's turned into good publicity for them for sure.
On the other hand one has to wonder quite what kind of testing program their military must have that encompasses these kinds of devices......... and whether they have any vacancies.......
If a military can't even handle some low-powered toys, how can we expect them to handle a war?
Perhaps the problem is simply that the remote control transmits on a frequency that is reserved for military use in Cypress. Even in Great Britain and the United States, low power devices are restricted to certain frequencies. Can you say "spectrum allocation"? I knew you could.
Assuming for the sake of argument that the device really does disrupt military comms, the question is: They discovered this how?
This sounds like something Rolling Stone would love to cover :)
While it's entirely possible that a given remote device could interfere with military signals, it seems _highly_ unlikely that this vibrator is the only consumer item that steps on this particular chunk of the spectrum...
I'm with Bruce - this smells of BS... or PR, which amounts to the same thing :-)
You've unmasked the real motivation behind [insert favorite electronics-harm-humans] story.
Not only that, wouldnt you want to make military devices that were capable of ignoring interference; intentional or otherwise? I mean if 27.8 MHz causes your tank to stop running, wouldnt the bad guys start equipping THEIR tanks with 27.8 MHz transmitters? Or for that matter build one into the belt of every infantryman.
Smells like viral marketing.
Whether or not this is the only device that might interfere is irrelevant -- if it is not, all those other devices are illegal in Cypress, too. If my interpretation is correct, the banning of this device likely occurred as a result of disclosure to the Cypriot authorities, who treated this as all customs authorities would treat it.
If this had been a remote controlled car, of course, it wouldn't have been blog fodder.
I don't rule out PR. Conventional wisdom would hold that this event is an excellent marketing opportunity. But PR is not mutually exclusive with a mundane spectrum allocation ruling.
I suspect Cyprus is used because it was the smallest potential customer base they could think of, and self-induced locking themselves out of that market would generate more sales from buzz than would be lost to hypothetically blocked Cypriot customers.
The most detail I could find was here: http://www.cyprus-mail.com/news/main.php?... - but I don't see any indication of whether or not it is the Turkish Cypriot administration or Greek that are being silly. I suspect the former based on past meddling along these lines, but that's just a hunch.
The story is about Cyprus, an island in the eastern Mediterranean. "Cypress" is a kind of tree. But thank you for providing yet another example of the uselessness of spelling checkers.
I'd like to see your reaction to Mikko Hypponen's suggestion that a .bank top-level domain be created and reserved for banks (http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=3798).
This seems to me roughly equivalent to the corporation law in (all?) U.S. states which prohibit all but legitimately-chartered banks from using words like "bank" or "trust" in their names.
There are three possible explanations:
1) Cypress military is fucking stupid
2) Cypress military uses terrible comm technology
3) This is a brilliant marketing move by the vibrator company.
Marketing "buzz" indeed.
As to whether they have any vacancies, I am sure there are openings, but they may be filled quickly.
Is this the new "Banned in Boston?"
"What's the frequency, Kenneth....?" :-)
Well it's funnier than "All your love bug are belong to us".
Seems likely to me that:
1) there has been no direct contact with the military (or it would be mentioned and/or quoted). The military hasn't really "deemed" it anything, there's just some general statute in place.
2) the device won't interfere with military systems.
3) despite (2), the company which makes it can't be bothered to go through the necessary RF testing to legally sell the thing in Cyprus. It's probably not worth it for the expected number of sales.
4) The "deceptively powerful" comment is just the company trying to make the situation as much of a positive as they can.
The fact that The Observer got hold of the story might be a PR plant, or it might be because the "Not for use in Cyprus" warning on the page which sells the vibrator was emailed to The Register a couple of weeks ago by a reader (see http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/05/01/... It's overwhelmingly likely that someone at The Guardian/Observer reads El Reg.
"I mean if 27.8 MHz causes your tank to stop running, wouldnt the bad guys start equipping THEIR tanks with 27.8 MHz transmitters? Or for that matter build one into the belt of every infantryman."
Sure. Until it turns out that this was just misinformation on the part of the Cypriots, and in fact that's the frequency used to help draw attention to targets.
I agree with Gordon M. This sounds like viral marketing.
[quote]http://www.thetoy.co.uk/[/quote] posted above by syberghost, imaging the text cost on that as well o.O hell if I ran a mobile company I'd be giving these out for free with every phone.
And to keep OT, I believe it's simply a spectrum ban, and to the people saying "why don't they use a frequency not interfered with by civilian frequencies"...that's what they've done, it just so happens a foreign device runs on it, shock.
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