How to secure interactive internet-connected toys that could spy on your kids

How to secure interactive internet-connected toys that could spy on your kidsElectronic and internet-connected toys are getting more popular. Some parents are concerned about the security after a year filled with cybersecurity problems for these toys. So, what to do and buff up the safety?

Earlier this year the FBI said internet-connected toys can be a target of hackers. These toys could provide a way for people to snoop and steal a child’s personal information, ABC NEWS notes.

The bureau didn’t name specific toys or brands and pointed to the general technology. Toys that use cameras, microphones and other web-connected electronics can be a problem.

And earlier this year there were such issues. Sadly, there’s not much you can do other than simply not using internet-connected toys. Of course, that’s not an idea that most kids would like.

So, you have to look for a middle ground. Happily, there is one. It all starts with some research. Before you buy a connected toy, check the online news and reviews about it. If there are reported issues, especially by the authorities, it may be a good idea not to keep or buy such a toy.

A great indicator of a reputable company is the amount of information it gives on its website. It will explain what data the toy collects, how it uses that data, who has access to it and etc. If you don’t see any of this in the Privacy Policy – ask the company. If it hasn’t given proper contact details or you’re not entirely pleased with the answer, refrain from getting the toy.

Securing the interactive toys you do pick up

At some point you will eventually choose internet-connected toys. So, you have to secure them. Make sure the toy will connect only via secure WiFi. This means using only WiFi networks which have a password set-up. Never connect such toys to free WiFi networks that are open to the public.

Make sure the electronic toys are powered off, when not in use. If the toy has a camera, place it so it’s facing a wall or simply cover it. You can place toys in microphones in a drawer or a chest. You can explain this to the kids by telling them the toys are tired and want to relax after play. This can also help teach kids to tidy up.

Always make sure you update the software of the interactive toy. Follow updates on its official site. When you do register the toy on it, don’t fill up all personal details.

If the interactive toy has the ability to offer a chat feature or other type of communication with people, be extra vigilant. Explain to children that they can’t give out personal information, said Liz Brown, a business law professor at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts, who focuses on technology and privacy law. But also check the chats to make sure everything is in order. Reputable companies also allow parents to check and even delete stored data, so that’s something you should take use of. Be vigilant and proactive to make sure you’ve done the most you can to increase the safety of web-connected toys.

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