Some of those must-have tech toys your kids received on Christmas Day may connect to Wi-Fi, cameras and apps.
DENVER — Some of those toys your kids unwrapped late Saturday or Christmas Day may connect to Wi-Fi, cameras and apps.
If so, don’t overlook your children’s safety and privacy.
“There are some really cool smart toys, smart-enabled toys, Wi-Fi-enabled toys like little dolls that talk back to you or listen to you,” said Molly Wendell, a board member of Colorado Cyber. The group consists of executives from the state’s security companies.
These kinds of toys are hot items this holiday season but also ripe with issues not every parent thinks of, she said.
“The toys could be listening to your child or recording video or recording the voice of your child,” Wendell said. That ability means someone could hack into your home computer network and access your bank statements online, credit cards and even medical records.
“There is the tradeoff between the security and privacy of your family and the coolness of the toy,” said Sam Masiello, a father of three girls and also chief information security officer at TeleTech Holdings (TTEC) in Englewood, Colo.
Some of the toys can record what’s being said around them and then transcribe the conversation, Masiello said. So manufacturers know what was said and can sell the information to advertisers.
“If it overhears you really want to buy a new car, it might send it over to car manufacturers,” he said, which is why some toy companies answer privacy questions on their websites, promising whatever a toy hears or stores is protected.
Cyber experts recommend changing your home Wi-Fi passwords often. Go into toys’ settings, limit the amount of data shared and turn off any camera. Keep in mind that toys with cameras that also connect to the Internet could be hacked, which means the cameras could be turned on and off without your knowledge.
“We have young kids, so we definitely don’t get toys with Internet,” said Adam Rutan of Lakewood, Colo., who was shopping in Timbuk Toys in Lakewood.
If you have a toy that asks for names, try telling a fake name so it doesn’t remember your child’s actual name.
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