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  Technology   In Other news  20 Jul 2017  Beware parents! Your kid's toy could be spying on you

Beware parents! Your kid's toy could be spying on you

DECCAN CHRONICLE
Published : Jul 20, 2017, 7:40 pm IST
Updated : Jul 20, 2017, 7:40 pm IST

The US security agency has stated that criminals or perpetrators could use the technology in smart toys to gather sensitive information.

The FBI had sent out an alert to parents stating the possibility that connected toys could put children “at risk” of getting targeted by criminals for identity theft or exploitation.
 The FBI had sent out an alert to parents stating the possibility that connected toys could put children “at risk” of getting targeted by criminals for identity theft or exploitation.

Ever wondered something as harmless as a teddy bear could be spying on you? Do not fret for FBI has now issued a warning to parents about the dangers of hi-tech toys which can connect to the internet and contain technology such as microphones and cameras.

The US security agency has stated that criminals or perpetrators could use the technology in smart toys to gather sensitive information about children like their location, name, and what the children look like.

The FBI had sent out an alert to parents stating the possibility that connected toys could put children “at risk” of getting targeted by criminals for identity theft or exploitation.

“Smart toys typically contain sensors, microphones, cameras, data storage components, and other multimedia capabilities — including speech recognition and GPS options,” stated FBI in its warning. “These features could put the privacy and safety of children at risk due to the large amount of personal information which may be disclosed unwittingly.”

Smart toys are capable of gathering personal information such as a child’s name, school, hobbies, and likes and dislikes, which could be utilized for criminal intent purposes.

The concerns here are however not whims of a fanatical agency but serious. In 2015, cyber criminals hacked VTech and accessed details of more than 6.4 million children from over 15 countries. Also in line is the widely known Fisher-Price’s Smart Toy Bear, one of the most popular children’s toys of Christmas 2015, was found to have a problem which could have given hackers personal details about a child.

There were also certain fears which were alleviated about a new interactive Barbie which can listen to children.

The FBI has advised parents to read the terms that come with any smart toys and ensure data is not being shared with any third parties. The FBI also added that parents should read consumer reviews and only buy products from makers that they trust.

They have stated, “Security safeguards with these toys can be overlooked in the rush to market them and to make them easy to use.” “Consumers should perform online research of these products for any known issues which has been identified by security researchers or in consumer reports.”

Other methods to keep children safe is when using smart toys, the FBI stated, which includes making sure the latest security updates are always applied, look for products which utilise end-to-end encryption and only connect devices for securing internet networks,  such as home Wi-Fi.

Parents are also advised to monitor children when they are using connected toys and to switch off the smart devices when not in use.

Tags: fbi, spy, us security agency, smart toys