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VTech

vtechphones.com, v-tech
VTech Traditional Chinese: 偉易達 is a Hong Kong-based global supplier of electronic learning products from infancy to preschool and the world's largest manufacturer of cordless phones234 It is also one of the top 50 electronic manufacturing services providers globally5

In November 2015, VTech's learning products app store, "Learning Lodge", was compromised, leading to the exposure of names, addresses, encrypted passwords and personal information of its customers, including photos and chat logs6

Contents

  • 1 Name and listing
  • 2 History
    • 21 2015 data breach
  • 3 Core businesses
    • 31 Electronic learning products ELPs
    • 32 Telecommunication TEL products
    • 33 Contract manufacturing services CMS
  • 4 Reception
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links

Name and listingedit

The company was originally named "Video Technology Limited" in reference to the company's first product, a home video game console7 In 1991, it was renamed "VTech Holdings Limited" to reflect a wider portfolio of products8

The company first listed in Hong Kong in June 1986 under the name "Video Technology International Holdings Limited" It was privatised and delisted from The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited in 19909

VTech obtained a primary listing on the London Stock Exchange in 1991 In 1992, the company relisted on The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited,10 establishing a dual primary listing with London In 1993, the company established its American depositary receipt programme

VTech delisted voluntarily from the London Stock Exchange on 7 October 200811 It also terminated its American Depositary Receipt programme with effect from 21 January 2011

Historyedit

VTech has developed edutainment consoles since 1988, their first being the Socrates

VTech was founded in Hong Kong in October 1976 by two local entrepreneurs, Allan Wong1213 and Stephen Leung8 When the first single-chip microprocessor "Intel 4004" became available in the early 1970s, the company saw the potential it offered for portable consumer electronics products Wong & Leung set up a small factory in To Kwa Wan, with a US$40,000 investment and a staff of 40 people In the first year, turnover was less than US$1 million8

VTech initially focused on developing video games In 1977, the company created its first home TV game console, a version of Pong Since only consumers in North America and Europe could afford such items, the company targeted primarily these markets

The United Kingdom was chosen as the first market for Pong, as Hong Kong and the UK used the same standard for television systems In 1978, the founders introduced LED games they had developed to buyers from RadioShack in the US, which were sold under the RadioShack brand

VTech then began to build its own brand VTech unveiled its first electronic learning product, called "Lesson One", at the New York Toy Fair, in February 19808 It taught children basic spelling and maths An exclusive version under the name "Computron" was offered to Sears, with the product being prominently advertised by Sears, in its catalogue,!which was a popular shopping guide1415

Laser computer

Next VTech made the video game console CreatiVision

VTech then branched out into personal computers, including a series of IBM compatible PCs beginning in 1983, followed by Apple II compatible computers, beginning in 1985, including a model called Laser 128

VTech exited the personal computer market in 1997, due to tight competition16

In 1985, the United States Federal Communications Commission FCC allocated the frequency band 900MHz to ISM industrial, scientific and medical devices Taking advantage of this, VTech began development on a cordless telephone, using the 900 MHz band, and in 1991 introduced the world's first fully digital 900 MHz cordless telephone1718

In 2000, to expand its cordless phone business, VTech acquired the consumer telephone business of Lucent Technologies The acquisition also gave VTech the exclusive right for 10 years to use the AT&T brand in conjunction with the manufacture and sale of wireline telephones and accessories in the United States and Canada19 Although the acquisition increased sales of VTech's telecommunication products by 50%, it led to operating losses and write-offs The company issued a profit warning in March 2001 and launched a broad restructuring plan20 By the financial year 2002, the company had turned around the business and returned to profitability21

Today, VTech's core businesses remain cordless telephones and electronic learning products Its contract manufacturing services – which manufactures various electronic products on behalf of medium-sized companies, has also become a major source of revenue The company has diversified geographically, selling to North America, Europe, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa22

2015 data breachedit

In November 2015, Lorenzo Bicchierai, writing for Vice magazine's Motherboard, reported that VTech's servers had been compromised and the corporation was victim to a data breach which exposed personal data belonging to millions of individuals, including children, who signed up for or utilized services provided by the company related to several products it manufactures Bicchierai was contacted by the unnamed attacker in late November, during the week before Thanksgiving, at which point the unnamed individual disclosed information about the security vulnerabilities with the journalist and detailed the breach23

Bicchierai then reached out to information security researcher Troy Hunt to examine data provided by the attacker to Bicchierai, and to confirm if the leak was indeed authentic and not an internet hoax Hunt examined the information and confirmed it appeared to be authentic Hunt then dissected the data in detail and published the findings on his website According to Hunt, VTech's servers failed to utilize basic SSL encryption to secure the personal data in transit from the devices to VTech's servers; that VTech stored customer information in unencrypted plaintext, failed to securely hash or salt passwords24

The attack leveraged an SQL injection to gain privileged root access to VTech servers Once privileged access was acquired, the attacker exfiltrated the data, including some 190 gigabytes of photographs of children and adults, detailed chat logs between parents and children which spanned over the course of years and voice recordings, all unencrypted and stored in plain text The attacker shared some 3,832 image files with the journalist for verification purposes, and some redacted photographs were published by the journalist Commenting on the leak, the unnamed attacker expressed their disgust with being able to so easily obtain access to such a large trove of data, saying: "Frankly, it makes me sick that I was able to get all this stuff VTech should have the book thrown at them” and explained their rationale for going to the press was because they felt VTech would have ignored their reports and concerns2526

VTech corporate security was unaware their systems had been compromised and the breach was first brought to their attention after being contacted by Bicchierai prior to publication of the article Upon notification, the company took a dozen or so websites and services offline2325

In an FAQ published by the company, they explain some 4,854,209 accounts belonging to parents and 6,368,509 profiles belonging to children had been compromised The company further claims the passwords had been encrypted, which is contrary to reports by the independent security researcher contacted by Vice The company indicated they were working with unspecified "local authorities"2724 VTech subsequently brought in the information security services company FireEye to manage incident response and audit the security of their platform going forward28

Mark Nunnikhoven of Trend Micro criticized the company's handling of the incident and called their FAQ "wishy-washy corporate speak"29

United States Senators Edward Markey and Joe Barton, co-founders of the Bi-Partisan Congressional Privacy Caucus, issued an open letter to the company inquiring as to why and what kind of information belonging to children is stored by VTech and how they use this data, security practices employed to protect that data, if children's information is shared or sold to third-parties and how the company complies with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act30

In February 2016, Hunt publicized the fact that VTech had modified its Terms and Conditions for new customers so that the customer acknowledges and agrees that any information transmitted to VTech may be intercepted or later acquired by unauthorized parties3132

Core businessesedit

Electronic learning products ELPsedit

VTech was among the pioneers of the ELP industry, beginning in 1980 with a unit designed to teach children basic spelling and mathematics33

Today VTech is a leading global supplier of ELPs from infancy to preschool,234 making both individual standalone products and platform products that combine a variety of consoles with different software12

Its VSmile TV Learning System, which was launched in 2004, established what the company calls platform products as an important category within its ELPs34 Latest additions to the platform product range are InnoTab Max,3536 Kidizoom Smart Watch37 and InnoTV3839

Telecommunication TEL productsedit

VTech introduced the world's first 900 MHz and 58 GHz cordless phones in 1991 and 2002 respectively According to MZA Ltd,40 the company is the world's largest manufacturer of cordless telephones

In North America, VTech is the largest player in the industry, according to MarketWise Consumer Insights LLC,41 selling both AT&T and VTech branded phones and accessories Outside North America, VTech mainly supplies products to fixed-line telephone operators, brand names and distributors on an original design manufacturing ODM basis

Contract manufacturing services CMSedit

VTech started manufacturing products for other brand names on an original equipment manufacturing OEM basis in the 1980s and CMS became one of the company's core businesses in the early 2000s

VTech has been identified as one of the world's top 50 electronics manufacturing services providers,5 providing electronics manufacturing services for medium-sized companies VTech's CMS has focused on four main product categories: professional audio equipment, switching mode power supplies, wireless products and solid-state lighting42

Receptionedit

A June 2012 report from the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights43 said the working conditions in the VTech factories in China failed to meet the legal standards and could be described as sweatshops VTech strongly rejected the allegations and issued a statement on 22 June 2012 reiterating that it is a responsible and caring employer which abides by the legal requirements relating to employment in all jurisdictions where it operates44

Referencesedit

  1. ^ Baby monitor
  2. ^ a b "Hong Kong's 40 Richest" Forbes 5 January 2012 
  3. ^ a b "VTech joins fray with tablets for children" South China Morning Post 12 February 2011 
  4. ^ a b "Company Research - VTech Holdings" PDF Maybank Kim Eng 24 March 2014 p 7 
  5. ^ a b "The MMI Top 50 for 2014" Manufacturing Market Insider 
  6. ^ "Children's electronic toy maker Vtech hacked" BBC 
  7. ^ "VTech Global Site" 
  8. ^ a b c d "VTech Global Site" 
  9. ^ "Corporate History | VTech" VTech Retrieved 2015-10-23 
  10. ^ "HKEx - Investment Service Centre" 
  11. ^ "Company announcement – Cancellation of Listing" PDF Hong Kong Stock Exchange 
  12. ^ a b "Silicon's Search For Youth" Forbes 31 January 2011 p 1 
  13. ^ "Transcript: Allan Wong, Chairman and Group CEO, VTech" CNN 18 October 2006 
  14. ^ "Silicon's Search For Youth" Forbes 31 January 2011 p 2 
  15. ^ "Kids' computers through the ages" Computerworld UK 18 July 2011 
  16. ^ "VTech Holdings Ltd – Company Profile, Information, Business Description, History, Background Information on VTech Holdings Ltd" Reference for Business 
  17. ^ "New Cordless Phones Offer Privacy, Remarkable Clarity" Chicago Tribune 4 June 1993 
  18. ^ Michael Rose 15 June 1992 "VTECH phone is no bump analog; this baby's digital" Business Journal-Portland 
  19. ^ "VTech buys Lucent's consumer phone business for $113m" ElectronicsWeeklycom 19 January 2000 
  20. ^ "VTech Issues Profit Warning, Plans to Restructure Business" Wall Street Journal Online 
  21. ^ "VTech reverses losses to post $112m profit" Reuters 27 June 2002 
  22. ^ "Annual Report 2012" PDF VTech pp 16–19 
  23. ^ a b Franceschi-Bicchierai, Lorenzo November 27, 2015 "One of the Largest Hacks Yet Exposes Data on Hundreds of Thousands of Kids" motherboardvicecom Vice magazine Retrieved 5 December 2015 
  24. ^ a b Hunt, Troy 28 November 2015 "When children are breached – inside the massive VTech hack" troyhuntcom Retrieved 5 December 2015 
  25. ^ a b Franceschi-Bicchierai, Lorenzo November 30, 2015 "Hacker Obtained Children's Headshots and Chatlogs From Toymaker VTech" motherboardvicecom Vice magazine Retrieved 5 December 2015 
  26. ^ Whittaker, Zack November 30, 2015 "VTech hack gets worse: Chat logs, kids' photos taken in breach" ZDNetcom Ziff Davis Retrieved 5 December 2015 
  27. ^ VTech press release December 3, 2015 "FAQ about Data Breach on VTech Learning Lodge last update: December 3, 2015, HKT" vtechcom Retrieved 5 December 2015 
  28. ^ Mukherjee, Supantha; Finkle, Jim December 3, 2015 "Digital toymaker VTech hires FireEye to secure systems after hack" Reuterscom Retrieved 5 December 2015 
  29. ^ Nunnikhoven, Mark November 27, 2015 "Hacked Don't Respond Like This" linkedincom Retrieved 5 December 2015 
  30. ^ Finkle, Jim Dec 2, 2015 "Congress wants VTech details on child data it collects" Reuterscom Retrieved 5 December 2015 
  31. ^ "Tech Tent" BBC Feb 12, 2016 
  32. ^ Troy Hunt Feb 9, 2016 "No, VTech cannot simply absolve itself of security responsibility" troyhuntcom 
  33. ^ "The VTech phenomenon" Forbes 19 October 1998 
  34. ^ "VSmile TV Learning System for kids" Gizmag 
  35. ^ "VTech Welcomes 4th Generation Children's Learning Tablets to Award-Winning InnoTab Family, Including First to Feature Android Learning Content" VTech 5 June 2014 
  36. ^ "VTech brings teacher-endorsed Android games to its InnoTab Max tablet for kids" Gizmag 8 June 2014 
  37. ^ "There Is Now a 'Smartwatch' for Kids" Mashable 18 February 2014 
  38. ^ "VTech Global Site" 
  39. ^ "VTech Toys US Site" 
  40. ^ "Annual Report 2014" PDF VTech p 5 
  41. ^ "Annual Report 2014" PDF VTech p 4 
  42. ^ "VTech Global Site" VTech 
  43. ^ "Reports" Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights 20 June 2012 
  44. ^ "Media Statement" VTech 22 June 2012 

External linksedit

  • VTech official website
  • VTech Phones website US
  • VTech Toys website US

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