‘Smart Toys’ May Make Your Children A Target For Hackers

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — While smart toys were at the top of many parents Christmas lists, there is growing concern the users – children- may become targets for hackers and identity thieves.

A Senate report, unveiled earlier this month, is warning parents about how they may be putting their privacy and that of their children at risk by using these so-called smart toys.

The way these toys work is they interact with a child by connecting to the internet which may be making them a prime target for those looking to steal information.

The toys may collect and store personal information about the user like names, addresses, birthdays, Wi-Fi passwords, credit card information and even their physical location.

If these toys are not properly secured, hackers or ID thieves can use that information in a number of ways from using their social security number to apply for government benefits to using a child’s physical location to abduct them.

The report goes on to talk about incidents in which smart toy manufacturers did not secure a child’s information properly.

Last year, VTech Electronics, which has electronic learning toys and baby monitors was breached. The data breach exposed the personal information of more than 6 million children around the world.

“It’s frightening to think that our children’s toys can be used against them in this way,” said Florida Senator Bill Nelson.

The report also shined a light on security flaws found in popular toys like Fisher-Price’s Smart Toy Bear and hereO’s GPS watch. A breach could have exposed a child’s information including their real-time physical location when it came to the watch.

The company hereO issued a statement on the report saying in part, “Whilst hereO was included in this report, at no point was any child ever at risk. Firstly, the watch hadn’t even been produced yet, so no children could be wearing them. Secondly, after we were contacted about the potential issue (which related to the smartphone app during its testing phase) in December last year, we fixed it within four hours…..Since addressing the issue, we’ve been working with two world-leading cyber security firms who carry out random penetration tests of the hereO watch.”

For parents looking to buy these smart toys, the report has recommendations to safeguard their information.

  • Learn what personal information the toy will collect and how it will be used. Check the toy’s privacy policy.
  • Find out if the toy’s manufacturer has previously been the subject of a data breach.
  • Once you’ve bought the toy, change default passwords and the default privacy settings to limit the amount of personal information that is shared.

Click here to read the full report.

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