Are Your Toys Spying on You? – Here’s What to Do!
The FBI issued a cyber security Public Service Announcement (PSA) warning consumers that toys may be violating their privacy. The warning applies to toys that are connected to the internet. The suspect toys are typically equipped with sensors, microphones, cameras, data storage components, speech recognition, and GPS.
Before buying an internet connected toy, users should research reviews and complaints about the toy or any electronic device.
- Use authentication when pairing the device with Bluetooth
- Don’t use the toy on a public wifi connection
- Understand who has access to your data and voice recordings
Toys are also subject to hacking. Like most other connected devices, internet connected toys may need updates to their firmware. Be sure your toy is kept up-to-date and patched to minimize the risk of hacking. Bluetooth-connected toys should be paired using a password. Those that do not have PIN or password authentication when pairing with the mobile devices could pose a risk as they are more vulnerable for hackers to exploit.
Parents who do buy internet connected toys should use them with caution:
- Be sure to monitor your child’s use of the toy
- Shut the toy off when not in use
- Do not register the toy unless it is required for patches or to operate the toy!
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) requires Web sites and online service operators directed at children under the age of 13 and on operators of other sites and services who knowingly collect personal online information on children under 13.
If you suspect your child’s toy may have been compromised, file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, at www.IC3.gov.
Michelle writes about cyber security, data privacy focusing on social media privacy as well as how to protect your IoT devices. She has worked in internet technology for over 20 years and owns METRONY, LLC. Michelle earned a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Michelle published a guide to Cyber Security for Business Travelers