Planning to Buy a Smart Toy for your Kid this Christmas?

Looking for Christmas gifts for your kids or nieces or nephews? Knit sweaters, mittens and peppermint chocolates are all yesteryear now! For kids who are already familiar with and the internet, you toy car might (read will) seem boring. You need not lose hope, when it comes to gift giving in 2016, the magic word is “technology”. Internet of Things (IoT) now also includes tech toys for kids, and the collection is no less than spectacular. However, as other IoT devices do, these toys come with a threat — of transferring information about the kids who play with them to hackers.

It has happened before in November 2015 with VTech company which affected 6.4 million children around the world. Hackers broke into the system of VTech — which makes connected toys, games and tablets for young children — and accessed customer accounts. The company eventually had to change terms and conditions of its products, limiting its liability for the acts of third parties. It said in a statement, “No company that operates online can provide a 100 percent guarantee that it won’t be hacked.” Another toy company Kiddicare has also declared that it has been breached by a phishing attack, and a portion of its data had been compromised. Though the company denies credit card or financial information being involved in the breach, other sensitive data belonging to 794,000 users may have been affected.

Well, this is the problem faced by every consumer using IoT devices — things connected to the internet. Each of these devices is sending mountains of data that could be hacked and abused, if not secured. As per Gartner research, the number of connected things will reach 20.8 billion by 2020. So, here are the few tips to consider before you buy a smart toy :

1. Be vigilant when it comes to permissions. Scrutinize the permissions you are giving the gadget. Dismiss those permissions which seem too invasive.

2. Always Remember : Change the password set by manufacturers to something very difficult to crack and unbreachable. Include a number or special character in the password.

3. Regularly check if you are able to access the information stored in your kid’s tech gadget via internet. If you can access the information, hackers can too!

4. Whatever device you are purchasing, make sure it has Parental Controls for you to restrict and monitor your kid’s activity.

NOTE : If you are not sure about safety and security standards of the gadget you are considering, do not buy it. There are many non-tech, safe toys for your kid to play with.

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