Kids' Cool Tech Toys Can Have Cyber Security Concerns

Jan 04, 2017

Parents often find themselves tempted to buy the greatest and latest gadgets for their children, but if these toys are “connected” or “smart toys” they’ll need to take additional measures.

With the Holidays behind us, your children might have a few connected toys in their possession. A handful of these new age toys are WiFi and App compatible, which automatically brings the concern of cyber security into account. This unavoidable emergence of “smart toys” is the new modernized industry standard, but parents need to be aware of the security concerns.

These new smart toys usually include, but are not limited to: camera use, voice recognition, audio recording, Internet capabilities, video and more! With what seems like harmless features could lead people into a rude awakening, as they may be putting their kids and family’s personal data at risk.

Parents need to understand that these features can make your “smart toy” hack-able. That new smart toy you brought for holiday season could be open season for a hacker to gain some valuable personal information. The risks of hackers should not be taken lightly; they can find the slightest weakness in something and exploit it.

Defending Yourself

The best way to go about this is to do research and stay informed. Read the owner’s manual, and familiarize yourself with the smart toy. Look online and read reviews on the product. Be aware of what information you give and say around the smart toy as it could lead to unwanted attention into your personal data. Consider using fake names, numbers, and birthdates, which may sound nonsensical at first but it’s a best practice for concealing information.

To further secure yourself, USA Today stated this valuable note, “Cyber experts recommend changing your home Wi-Fi passwords often. Go into toys' settings, limit the amount of data shared and turn off any camera.” Limiting connectivity is always key when talking about cyber security and this way gives people more control over the “Smart Toy”.

As advances in technology continue, we’ll see more of these types of connected toys on every wish list. Chief technology officer for Mayfield Robotics, Kaijen Hsiao stated recently in USA Today, “You’re seeing a lot of companies taking advantage of the technologies that have been made cheaper by smartphones and video games,”

With this being said, we will not see a decline in smart toys anytime in the near future. If anything, we’re witnessing the rise of smart toys growing exponentially. Parents need to be diligent on how these toys interact with Wi-Fi or apps. Consider installing a parental control software that will alert you when new apps are downloaded. Embrace these new tech toys in your child’s life and at the same time stay informed as to how these toys interact to keep you and your children safe!