With the introduction of the I-Phone on June 29, 2007 -- life as we knew it – changed forever. How much so is something we wouldn’t fully understand, certainly back then.  In the years that followed, other smartphones would be created as well. The way in which we shared and consumed information would not only change forever, but our access to such information would be accessible at a rate we couldn’t imagine. Although we’ve seen a lot of upside to this newfound luxury, nothing comes without its downsides.

Internet-connected toys typically have a built-in microphone and speaker and could potentially expose children and others to harm, including but not limited to theft of data or identity.

Smart toys do run the risk of being accessed by criminals, just as with as other smart device. What should you know about these toys?

  • Search the internet for articles or complaints pertaining to these products regarding their security or privacy issues.
  • Using such words as “toy name” or “firmware” or “software” update in your search should give you plenty of information.

If you are not familiar with these types of toys, there are a few features that you should become aware of. First, you should know what the microphone and speaker within the toy will be doing. What is its purpose? Does it communicate back to the child and answer questions? Does it record? How long does it hold onto a recording? Be careful with the kind of data that you share. Always review the terms, conditions and privacy policies of these items in order to understand how the data being collected will be used and protected.

If the toy has a Bluetooth function capability, what does the Bluetooth connection do? Is there a PIN associated with it? Without a PIN, that Bluetooth connection may be accessed by anyone and monitored to find vulnerabilities. A PIN does add another layer of security, deeming the connection locked, so that other devices cannot access it.

What data is being accessed by the pairable app? Does it need access to an email or credit card? Does it connect to social media accounts or pages? Does it require access to a photo gallery?

Search for parental controls. Are there parental controls inside the app or toy? How can a parent manage data and its use?