The internet of things has made its way into the playroom, with connected toys becoming big sellers, but the FBI is urging parents to think twice about all of those smart playthings.
Toys that include sensors, microphones, cameras, GPS or other multimedia capabilities could put children’s privacy and personal safety at risk, the agency warned this week in a consumer notice.
The FBI said that criminals could use data collected from such toys to commit identity theft or other kinds of exploitation. It advised parents to read the user agreement disclosures and privacy practices before using such toys, and to seek information about where data is being sent or stored. “Security safeguards for these toys can be overlooked in the rush to market them and to make them easy to use,” the notice states.
Consumers should carefully read the toy user agreement to determine where personal data is sent or stored, and they should research online to see whether a particular toy has known security issues.
The FBI also recommends that families connect to Wi-Fi only over a trusted and secure connection, and always install software updates for a toy. Parents should closely supervise children while using connected toys, and make sure that any toys — especially those with a camera or a microphone — are turned off when not in use.
As with any online account, make sure that any passwords associated with the toy are strong and unique. Do not enter personally identifying information such as birthdays when creating accounts.