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 with it problems, potentially allowing cybercriminals to gather data about you and your family.

Some toys on the market have security vulnerabilities, according to research published in 2017 by consumer body Which? These include non-secured connections, which could potentially be used by hackers to listen in on private information or play their own audio clips to unsuspecting children. This data could be gathered via various sources, for example, sensors, microphones, cameras, and GPS options in a toy.

An official telecommunications watchdog in Germany warned parents to rid themselves of a smart toy called Cayla in 2017, due to the unsecure nature of the Bluetooth device located inside the doll. Although this research was carried out by security experts and not based on actual reported cases of fraud via smart toys, it helped to kickstart a debate on just how safe smart toys are.

If you’ve decided to let your children play with smart toys, here are some tips to keep in mind for helping to safeguard against identity fraud:

  • Do your research before buying. Find out if there have been any security problems reported in relation to that toy.
  • 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.
  • 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. Children can be victims of identity theft too.

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.

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