CHARLESTON, SC (WCBD) — The FBI has a warning for Lowcountry parents: Take a closer look at your children’s toys. Hackers could get into some of the internet-connected toys that they may have.
The FBI issued a warning this week about the issue. Security experts say if the FBI issues that warning, it should be taken seriously.
“As more and more toys become internet active, it becomes a very big concern for security,” said Matt Ham, owner of The Computer Repair Doctor in Charleston.
“The problem with smart toys is that the security budgets are normally lower, and they don’t get updated,” Ham said.
The FBI says many of these smart toys have a combination of sensors, cameras, and microphones. Some have voice recognition software and GPS.
“The security of internet-of-things devices, including smart toys, is typically a lot [poorer] than it is for operating systems, computers or phones. Less attention is given to a Barbie doll that gets online than a phone that gets online,” Ham said.
Ham says the best way to protect your child is to really understand the toy. Find out if a smart toy is collecting data, and where it is stored or sent. That includes knowing any third party services involved, which the FBI says sometimes comes with the voice recognition software.
As far as the strength of a toy’s internet security, “you’re kind of at the mercy of the toy provider,” said Ham.
The FBI advises that you make sure you’re using a secure wi-fi connection with a strong password. Some toys may also include a parent app which allows parents to monitor a child’s use.
Finally, if a child isn’t playing with a toy, make sure it’s turned off.