There are some pretty sophisticated toys out there that allow you to communicate with your youngster. But what if they were also making it possible for hackers to access both you and your children’s information? Barry Levy has today’s Consumer Report some warnings about this new generation of toys.
The toys that I grew up with didn’t have cameras or blue-tooth, they didn’t talk and definitely didn’t have internet access. They had Hung-Fu grip and if you wanted your GI Joe jeep to make a noise…you made the noise…Brrrrrrr. Well, toys today can do a whole lot more than that but they also can open the door to your most guarded information.
Kids navigate the digital world at very young ages. And now many young children are playing with toys that connect to the internet. Like this little bear – that comes with Bluetooth connection.
“Hi, Hunter. It’s Mommy.”
Parents and children can record and send messages to each other through the internet using an app.
“I love you.” “I love you too, Mommy.”
But earlier this year a security researcher warned the toy’s maker – Spiral Toys – that its servers weren’t adequately protected – making user emails and passwords vulnerable to hackers.
“Exposing personal data could put you at risk for identity theft or even credit card fraud down the road – And the worst case scenario though very remote is that that information could be used in a child abduction,” Bree Fowler/Consumer Reports Cyber Security Editor.
And there are some very real instances of children’s privacy being compromised by internet-connected toys. Two years ago a hacker attacked toy maker VTech, exposing profiles of more than 6 million children – including names, genders and birth dates and even more detailed profiles of about 5 million adults.
And the Federal Trade Commission recently announced it’s reviewing privacy and security complaints of two internet connected toys I-Que Robot and My Friend Cayla. The doll has been banned in Germany.
Consumer Reports says examples like these should serve as a wake-up call to families – either play it safe and enter fake names and birthdays – or skip buying these toys altogether.
Spiral Toys told Consumer Reports they saw no evidence their data was breached but took immediate action to protect the privacy of their customers. As for VTech – they say they took swift action after their data WAS compromised. The company assures consumers they can now manage their accounts securely – and to also change their passwords as soon as possible…now, I believe it’s time for a little secret mission with Joe here.
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