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Consumer Reports: How connected toys may impact your child's online privacy

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It's no secret that sharing personal information online comes with risk. But what if toys were also making it possible for hackers to access both you and your children's information? (WLS)

It's no secret that sharing personal information online comes with risk. But what if toys were also making it possible for hackers to access both you and your children's information?

Consumer Reports has some stern warnings about a new generation of toys.

Kids navigate the digital world at very young ages. Now, many young children are playing with toys that connect to the internet, like a little bear that comes with Bluetooth connection.

Parents and children can record and send messages to each other through the internet using an app.

But earlier this year, a security researcher warned the toy's maker, Spiral Toys, that its servers weren't adequately protected, making user emails and passwords vulnerable to hackers.

"Exposing personal data could put you at risk for identity theft or even credit card fraud down the road. The worst-case scenario, though very remote, is that that information could be used in a child abduction," Consumer Reports Cyber Security Editor Bree Fowler said.

There are some very real instances of children's privacy being compromised by internet-connected toys.

A hacker attacked toy maker VTech two years ago, exposing profiles of more than 6 million children, including names, genders and birth dates, and even more detailed profiles of about 5 million adults.

The Federal Trade Commission recently announced it is reviewing privacy and security complaints of two internet-connected toys: i-Que Robot and My Friend Cayla. The doll has been banned in Germany.

Consumer Reports said examples like these should serve as a wake-up call to families - either play it safe and enter fake names and birthdays, or skip buying these toys altogether.

Spiral Toys told Consumer Reports they saw no evidence their data was breached, but took immediate action to protect the privacy of their customers.

As for VTech, they said they took swift action after their data was compromised. The company assures consumers they can now manage their accounts securely and advised them to change their passwords as soon as possible.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2017 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org
Related Topics:
technologyconsumer reportstoysinternetwi-fiappsecurityidentity theft

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