FBI warning parents about their children's privacy risk with smart toys

July 19, 2017 07:01 PM

Kids might not have to use their imagination anymore. Some parents said many toys are intelligent enough to take that away.  They're, in essence, smart toys and they interact almost like a friend.

"You get an Internet enabled toy and the kids are happy. The parents are happy. But what parents really need to be aware of is that there are sensors in these toys," said Shaun Wiggins, the owner of Soteryx, a cyber security company in Saratoga Springs.

Wiggins said most people know by now to keep a close eye on their children when it comes to smart phones, tablets and computers. But they may not realize that interactive toys could also make them vulnerable. He said the toys have sensors like a microphones, GPS tagging and in some cases a camera. They are constantly collecting data via the internet.

"That data is stored somewhere. The challenge there is that that data can be hacked," he said.

That's why the FBI put out a warning about potential problems. The agency didn't point to any toy makers by name. They said toys are increasingly incorporating technologies that tailor their behaviors based on interactions with your kids. Your child's information can be exploited by hackers.

"It's something that unfortunately a lot of the manufacturers are not taking their time to do their due diligence as far as security is concerned," Wiggins said.

There are some very basic things parents can do to protect their kids, according to Wiggins. First he said, monitor your children's activity with the toy.

"Create very strong passwords. That's something so basic that a lot of people just don't do," he added.

Upper and lower case letters, along with numbers and characters create the strongest passwords. Wiggins said you should also do a little research on the toy maker, read their user agreements. He suggests to stay away from any company that's been hacked more than twice.

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Dan Bazile

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