Giving your child Internet-connected ‘smart toys’ could be dumb

The acronym IoT has a new meaning — “Internet of Toys”— and just like the old abbreviation, for Internet of Things, this one comes with urgent cybersecurity warnings. The FBI is cautioning that Internet-connected toys, also known as “smart toys,” can be compromised by hackers. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center goes into extraordinary detail in its release, saying strangers can pinpoint your address, snag children’s names and birth dates, download your son or daughter’s photo and even listen in on your conversations and record your child’s voice. 

This is not just a heads up about potential child identity theft. The FBI has more serious concerns: “The potential misuse of sensitive data such as GPS location information, visual identifiers from pictures or videos, and known interests to garner trust from a child could present exploitation risks,” the release states. “The FBI encourages consumers to consider cyber security prior to introducing smart, interactive, internet-connected toys into their homes . . .”

So what types of toys should parents scrutinize? Here are several risk factors provided by the FBI and Be cautious if the toy:

•   connects directly to the Internet via WiFi.

•   connects via Bluetooth to a device which is, in turn, connected to the Internet .

•   contains speakers.

•   contains microphones.

•   contains a recording device.

•   contains cameras.

•   contains wireless transmitters and receivers.

•   has speech recognition capability.

•   has GPS capability.

•   connects to a mobile app.

•   requests name, address, date of birth or other personal information when you register.

•   stores your data internally.

•   sends your data to the manufacturer and/or partners.

•   has cloud connection capability.

•   remains connected to the cloud even when it’s off.

•   does not come with an End User License…

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