Gifts to Avoid Buying Your Children this Holiday Season

Gifts to Avoid Buying Your Children this Holiday Season

There are only 17 days left until Christmas and that means that most people are running around crazy looking for the perfect gifts for their families. Most are on the hunt for the perfect toy that will make their child’s eyes light up on Christmas morning, but there are a few things you should know before you go rooting around the toy aisle.

This year, we’ve seen several different cyber-attacks. From banks to Fortune 500 companies, the threat of a hacker just isn’t going away.  We’ve recently seen the terror of what can happen when companies like Sony are hacked, widespread leaks of emails, photos and sensitive information is just the beginning of what was released. Now think of a cyber-attack like that, but imagine it happening with your children’s information.

Ever since VTech was hacked in late November, we’ve been finding out piece by piece what kind of information the company stored and if that information was able to be seen by cyber criminals. While credit card information was not stored on VTech’s site, adult information such as names, birth dates and addresses were accessed. Even more disturbing though, was the fact that children’s information was tapped into as well. Some new sources even reported that kids’ photos were stolen from VTech’s database.

Authorities are most worried that someone will be able to link an adult’s information to a child’s profile and be able to find that child at his or her home. When a stranger walks up to a kid knowing details about them, i.e. their birth date, parents names and address, the child may think the person is safe and follow them anywhere.

That’s not good.

Internet connected toys are windows for strangers to look through to see your child. Recently, hackers were able to find that Matel’s Hello Barbie can be accessed and used to listen to your child’s intimate conversations with a toy that is, for all intents and purposes, Siri with a body.

Hackers also found that they could speak through other internet connected toys such as, My Friend Cayla. Programming the doll to say “bad words” and give inappropriate commands.

Hacking toys isn’t really a new thing. People have been using Furbys to scare people and programming SpongeBob to say rude things for years, but this is different. These internet or Bluetooth connected devices, such as VTech’s InnoTab Max Tablet or Matel’s Hello Barbie, barely ever have any kind of protection software, opening kids up into a world of information that is just begging to be seen or stolen by strangers.

Cyber officials don’t want to leave you feeling like you can’t buy any device that connects to the internet, though. They are big proponents of Apple’s devices. The iPad is a favorite among children as they are able to change out apps when they feel like playing something different. Parents can rest easy knowing that Apple’s devices come with many layers of security that help keep their children’s information safe.

Posted by Sydny Shepard on Dec 08, 2015

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