FBI warns parents of potential dangers of 'smart toys' - FOX Carolina 21

FBI warns parents of potential dangers of 'smart toys'

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A child plays with a digital device (Wikimedia Commons) A child plays with a digital device (Wikimedia Commons)
(FOX Carolina) -

The FBI is urging parents to use caution and research security concerns involving smart, internet connected toys before buying the products for their children.

FBI agents said the high-tech toys contain sensors, microphones, cameras, data storage components, and other multimedia capabilities – some even include speech recognition and GPS options. Agents say the smart features may put privacy and safety of children at risk because the In addition to personal data needed to create user accounts, the FBI said tech companies collect other data, such as voice messages, audio recordings, past and real-time physical locations, internet use history, and web addresses.

Data collected from interactions between children and toys are often to cloud or remote servers, and can sometimes be sent to third-party companies, agents said.

If the data falls into the wrong hands, it could be used to garner trust from a child, and present exploitation risks. Identity fraud could also be a concern.

The FBI advises parents to take the following precautions and gathering the following information before buying internet-connected toys and products for children.

  1. Research for any known reported security issues online to include, but not limited to:
  2. Only connect and use toys in environments with trusted and secured Wi-Fi Internet access
  3. Research the toy’s Internet and device connection security measures
  4. Use authentication when pairing the device with Bluetooth (via PIN code or password)
  5. Use encryption when transmitting data from the toy to the Wi-Fi access point and to the server or cloud
  6. Research if your toys can receive firmware and/or software updates and security patches
  7. If they can, ensure your toys are running on the most updated versions and any available patches are implemented
  8. 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
  9. Carefully read disclosures and privacy policies (from company and any third parties) and consider the following:
  10. If the company is victimized by a cyber-attack and your data may have been exposed, will the company notify you?
  11. If vulnerabilities to the toy are discovered, will the company notify you?
  12. Where is your data being stored?
  13. Who has access to your data?
  14. If changes are made to the disclosure and privacy policies, will the company notify you?
  15. Is the company contact information openly available in case you have questions or concerns?
  16. 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
  17. Ensure the toy is turned off, particularly those with microphones and cameras, when not in use
  18. Use strong and unique login passwords when creating user accounts (e.g., lower and upper case letters, numbers, and special characters)
  19. 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.

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