Toys bringing stranger danger into home
MOST parents are clueless about the dangers of internet-connected toys and how to manage them, Australia's leading cyber cop says.
Susan McLean said parents need to question if they really need a "spy" toy in their home at Christmas, putting their children and their personal data at risk.
"One of the easiest ways a hacker can gain access is because parents don't know to change the default security code that the toy comes with," she said.
With the Australian toy market flooded with laptops, watches, interactive robots, dolls and teddies new research shows that 50 per cent of parents are enforcing a connection-free gift ban on friends and family.
Two in three parents said that if their child received a connected gift they would put it in the bin. The research from Norton by Symantec confirmed the cyber cop's claims that parents were in the dark, with one-third admitting they were completely uniformed about these modern toys.
"Some internet toys are easier to manage than others, but if they come into the home parents must do their homework," she said.
There are interactive toys with microphones and speech recognition software.
Some have built-in cameras and sensors, others have web browsers.
Hackers can monitor when a child plays with the toy and gather their personal information such as name, date of birth and even their geolocation. Data can also be obtained from the online account. Criminals can communicate directly with a child through the toy and even manipulate the toy to perform in a certain way.
Christmas is a busy time of year for hackers and online scammers.
Albany Creek mum Amie Butler says she knows that connected toys are unsafe.
"If the kids are playing on my tablet I make sure it is not connected and I am with them," she said.