Can smart toys be used to ‘spy’ at home? Be safe with these tips
Be smart, when using smart toys! As New Jersey kids play with holiday gifts, experts have tips for protecting their privacy. The Fisher-Price smart toy bear uses voice recognition for its play. The Adidas miCoach Smart Soccer Ball has sensors which make its training indicators possible. If a toy connects to the internet (whether through wi-fi or bluetooth), then it could be vulnerable to hacking.
The FBI recently issued a "smart toy alert" guide, which outlined risks that also include ID fraud and other physical security issues. Here are some basic tips:
- Use strong and unique login passwords when creating user accounts, even for kids’ toys.
- Provide only what’s minimally required when inputting information for user accounts.
- Only connect and use toys with trusted and secured wi-fi internet access.
- Guardians should carefully read toy privacy policies. Extreme "legalese" that's hard to follow is a red flag about protections.
- Just like a smartphone, a toy's software may require updates. Make sure you download those quickly.
- Be sure a toy is logged off, particularly those with microphones and cameras, when not in use.
Devices can include sensors, microphones, cameras, data storage components, and other multimedia capabilities — including speech recognition and GPS options. With any such toy, key questions to seek the answers to are "Where is your data being stored?" and "Who has access to your data?" The internet privacy group Mozilla has created a privacy guide, which includes specific toy advice and information.
If you suspect a child’s toy may have been compromised, you can file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center online at www.ic3.gov.
Proud Jersey Girl Erin Vogt’s first reporting gig involved her Fisher Price tape recorder. As a wife and momma of two kiddies, she firmly believes that life’s too short to drink bad coffee. A fan of the beach, Dave Grohl and karma, in no particular order.