Don’t let your children become internet-connected toys.

For last-minute shoppers, tech toys have a special appeal. They are masses, and can usually be shipped in two days or faster from any number of online retailers. Binding on Internet connections may also make these gorgeous children’s gadgets sound more appealing. It’s not just a teddy bear, it’s a machine learning a teddy bear. On the other hand: no.

This is not the general anti-technology balance, or even the technology associated with children. There are many responsible, safe ways for children to browse and benefit from the Internet. On the contrary, it is an important reminder that the core of toys and online connections is just another internet-connected device, often full of the same maladies and vulnerabilities. In addition, they occasionally point the microphone or camera to your child.

Security firm Rapid7, head of research at Tod Beardsley said, “in general, people may not to do so”, but the Internet toy is just another part in the field of Internet of things, but for poor safety hackers did not distinguish between the Internet equipment, such as an ordinary webcam and a wi-fi image, “a lot of infrastructure looks like a plain old Linux or Android, attackers don’t care, internal is just a computer.” “Said Beardsley.

Hackers paradise

That makes the Internet related toys became the main candidates for the so-called botnet, a group of zombie machines used by hackers launch site, server or other Internet infrastructure of denial of service attacks. Remember that afternoon last fall, when the Internet was closed all afternoon in the United States? A botnet makes this possible.

You might say, well, of course, but it doesn’t sound so bad, at least in how it affects my joke dialogue robot’s tween. It’s fair! But the fbi this year issued a warning about Internet toys, not just a threat to botnets.

“These toys usually include sensors, microphones, cameras, data storage components and other multimedia functions, including voice recognition and GPS options,” the agency wrote. “These functions may endanger the privacy and safety of children.”

This is not just hypothetical alarmism. When Mattel introduced the wi-fi enabled Hello barbie doll in 2015, the product was easily stolen. Before the toy giant comes up with a patch, the attacker may steal anything from the password to the actual dialog. Recently, the Norwegian consumer council found that it was trivial to track the child-centred smartwatches of a number of companies, even using them to communicate with their children.

The list goes on, including real-world consequences. In march of this year, a series of Internet of things called CloudPets left two million teddy bears in the online database by fluffy partner record information, anyone can hear these messages – not to mention through exposure to 800000 emails and password. The list goes on, but you get it.

Not every internet-connected toy is unsafe, just as not every home webcam has fallen prey to hackers. However, the overall security of the iot industry is still very wide, and toy subclasses are no exception. In addition, hackers aren’t even your biggest concern – often the company itself.

Privacy is the first

Last year, several joint advocacy groups complained to the federal trade commission to the genesis toy, my friend Cayla and I – Que intelligent robot made of two specific products, said they “unfairly fraudulently collection, use and share the voice of the children did not provide sufficient notice or get proven parental consent. “These Toys have been banned in Germany from the shelves of Target and Toys R Us. (you can still find them on amazon, though the number is limited in this article.) Genesis didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Privacy advocates say the two specific complaints are a broader concern for the industry.


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