Safeguarding your family’s personal data on smart toys
It’s tempting to want to get the latest toys for your children. Technology has played its part in helping to create toys that can seem more sophisticated and exciting compared to traditional playthings. However, the latest tech can also bring problems, potentially allowing cybercriminals to gather data about you and your family.
Which? found in December 2019 that many of the most popular smart toys had potential security risks. One Bluetooth smart karaoke machine, for example, had no PIN or restrictions stopping anyone from sending recorded voice notes to the device via Bluetooth.
So what can you do to keep your children smart about smart device security?
Keeping children safe online
When it comes to buying any new smart toy or device, there are a few areas of concern you should address first.
1. How does the toy interact with your child?
By discovering what the toy’s functions include, you can have a better understanding of the risks that could arise.
For example – does the smart device have a chat function that connects them to other users? Can the device connect to other smart devices, which could mean your child receiving messages to their phone or tablet?
2. What personal information does the toy require?
Some games and devices require a user profile to be built – including email addresses, locations, age, gender and more. This isn’t always a bad thing and can enhance the experience, but be mindful if the device is from a reputable firm with a solid security system set in place.
Don’t share any information that you don’t want to with the company producing the toys. If you’re worried about any information that they insist on having, consider whether it’s worth having the toy.
3. Is there a camera?
Cameras and in-built microphones can be more vulnerable to hackers, or risk being misused.
You can see if you can turn off or cover the microphone or camera when the device isn’t in use, as this is often a feature included.
4. Does the toy come with additional in-app purchases or subscriptions?
Upgrades and bundles thrown in as additional extras could trick your child into signing up for costly subscriptions or sharing more information, such as card details and phone numbers.
General smart device security practical tips
Once you’ve assessed the questions above, if you go ahead and buy a smart device, you can still take steps to avoid potential security risks.
- Use secure passwords, and manage any passwords related to the toys – don’t leave this up to your child.
- Ensure that you have the latest internet security measures installed, and update these whenever needed.
- Don’t leave the toys connected when they’re not being played with. Turn them off to ensure that they’re disconnected.
- Try not to operate Bluetooth-enabled toys in public spaces. Bluetooth can be accessed from a close distance, so hackers who are nearby could potentially try to gain access to your child’s toy.
- Make sure your children are supervised when they’re playing with smart toys.
If you’re worried that your personal details have been compromised, you may want to check your Equifax Report & Score. Free for the first 30 days then £7.95 monthly, it includes WebDetect, which alerts you if your data is found on websites frequented by fraudsters.
Online toys are one of many household items that could expose you and your family to identity fraud. Find out what other smart gadgets could put you at the risk of identity theft.
- How to spot and avoid travel scams
- Infographic: What is a money mule?
- What is money laundering?
- What is a Ponzi scheme?
- How to report identity theft
- How to protect older people from being scammed
- Using contactless mobile payments and apps
- Safeguard your personal data when using smart home assistants
- Infographic: Avoiding festival fraud: crime statistics and festival security
- How your identity could be stolen offline
- Protect against ID theft when making mobile payments
- e-book: Staying safe online
- Infographic: Protecting your children online
- Online Fraud Terminology
- What is anonymous browsing?
- Distributed Denial of Service explained
- How secure is your email?
- Identity theft and fraud explained
- Financial fraud explained
- Best practices for avoiding identity theft
- Stay safe online: Creating a secure password
- Scam avoidance: A few ways to help stay secure
- Infographic: Are smart gadgets putting you at risk of identity theft?
- Helping your children stay safe online
- Should you share your location on social media?
- Safeguard your personal information on video game consoles
- Would you do internet banking on your smart TV?
- How fraudsters use Wi-Fi hotspots to steal data
- How to avoid email fraud
- Preventing your child’s identity from being stolen
- Keeping your personal information secure when moving home
- Protect yourself from becoming a victim of SMS phishing
- Protect against identity theft when sharing photos online
- Safeguard your identity on mobile apps
- Your social media profile and identity theft
- What is credit card fraud – can you prevent it from happening to you?
- How fraudsters can hijack your browser
- Safeguard your identity on Facebook and other social media sites
- Going on holiday - keeping your identity safe
- How to prevent smartphone identity theft
- Shopping online – staying safe against identity theft
- How to spot and avoid romance scams
- Facial recognition and identity risk
- Dealing with phishing phone scams
- How cyber attacks happen
- Safer Internet Day – protecting children online
- 7 Signs of Identity Theft
- How to avoid contactless card fraud
- What Are Data Breaches?
- How to Spot a Phishing Email
- ID Fraud Overview
- How Financial Crimes Are Hidden in The Dark Web
- How much do you know about the Dark Web?
- Are you losing your identity?