Be smart… and cautious… with "Smart” toys"

Be smart… and cautious… with "Smart” toys"

By / State News / Tuesday, 25 July 2017 04:00

RALEIGH, N.C. : July 21st, 2017 - Toys that talk to you, know your name and play like real friends? Toys today are a far cry from the cabbage patch kids and G.I. Joe’s their parents played with. Many toys these days can connect to the internet. One reason these new toys are so fascinating is their connectivity; but with this exciting level of engagement also comes the risks associated with kids being online. Parents must be aware of these risks and monitor how their children are playing.
The FBI is warning parents to be careful when purchasing “smart” toys and when letting children use them. These toys can include microphones, cameras, sensors, data storage, and GPS capabilities. Potential dangers include invasion of privacy, financial fraud, and even child exploitation. The risks are present whether the device connects directly to the internet through Wi-Fi, or indirectly via a Bluetooth-enabled device like a cell phone.
Parents are urged to check toy companies’ privacy policies and to be aware of how any data that is collected will be used, stored, and possibly shared with other companies. That’s in addition to keeping their home computers secure and using Wi-Fi safely whether they are at home or in public.
The North Carolina Department of Justice has many helpful tips for consumers at www.ncdoj.gov. Visit the site to learn more about internet and consumer safety, or to file a complaint if you’ve been scammed or treated unfairly by a business.
What Should I Do?
The FBI encourages consumers to consider the following recommendations, at a minimum, prior to using Internet-connected toys.
• Research for any known reported security issues online to include, but not limited to:
• Only connect and use toys in environments with trusted and secured Wi-Fi Internet access
• Research the toy’s Internet and device connection security measures. Use authentication when pairing the device with Bluetooth (via PIN code or password). Use encryption when transmitting data from the toy to the Wi-Fi access point and to the server or cloud
• Research if your toys can receive firmware and/or software updates and security patches
• If they can, ensure your toys are running on the most updated versions and any available patches are implemented
• Research where user data is stored – with the company, third party services, or both – and whether any publicly available reporting exists on their reputation and posture for cyber security
• Carefully read disclosures and privacy policies (from company and any third parties) and consider the following:
- If the company is victimized by a cyber-attack and your data may have been exposed, will the company notify you?
- If vulnerabilities to the toy are discovered, will the company notify you?
- Where is your data being stored?
- Who has access to your data?
- If changes are made to the disclosure and privacy policies, will the company notify you?
- Is the company contact information openly available in case you have questions or concerns?
• Closely monitor children’s activity with the toys (such as conversations and voice recordings) through the toy’s partner parent application, if such features are available
• Ensure the toy is turned off, particularly those with microphones and cameras, when not in use
• Use strong and unique login passwords when creating user accounts (e.g., lower and upper case letters, numbers, and special characters)
• Provide only what is minimally required when inputting information for user accounts (e.g., some services offer additional features if birthdays or information on a child’s preferences are provided)
If you suspect your child’s toy may have been compromised, file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, at www.IC3.gov
Source: North Carolina Department of Justice.

Author

Super User

Super User

Carolina Beach North Carolina

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