PORTLAND — The Oregon FBI’s “Tech Tuesday” segment advises parents to be careful of new “smart” toys, which connect to the internet. The state branch even put its warnings in poetry:
“Personalization is key, and that means learning what your kid is all about.
This can lead to serious privacy invasion, make no doubt.
Tommy’s new toy may capture his likes and locations with voice recognition.
GPS, microphones and video recording are all part of the proposition.
Samara’s big gift may soon know where she lives, goes to school and plays in the park.
And it can send that info to back to the company, leaving you in the dark.”
Given those reasons, how should parents keep children safe this holiday season? The FBI has these answers:
•First, research the toy and its manufacturer. Check to see if hackers have breached the company’s database in the past and try to determine the level of security the corporation uses to protect its customers.
•Second, turn on all possible internal security devices. If a password or even dual encryption option is available, use it. Likewise, if the company offers an update or software patch, install it immediately to protect against possible hacking vulnerabilities. Also, make sure any WiFi system connected to the toy is equally secure.
•Third, read all of the company’s disclosure statements to understand the purpose and destination of the information the toy collects.
•Finally, monitor the use of the toy. When not in use, turn the toy off completely to avoid automatic systems, such as GPS or voice recording, from continuing to collect data.
Following this advice can help you make Christmas turn out nice.