As toys tap IoT technology and augmented reality to become smarter, manufacturers often forget the importance of security strategies to protect families and children from snoops.
Smart toys have changed consumer behavior and given companies real-time insights into personal preferences to improve engagement. But as they give out personal information to manufacturers, they could just as easily leak info to hackers.
Smart toy sales have been growing rapidly due to the endless possibilities of using IoT, reaching $22 billion in the U.S. in 2014.
No business is immune to attacks. It was only last year that VTech, the Chinese leader in manufacturing toys, baby monitors, tablets and phones, announced that its app database had been hacked, exposing the names, email addresses, passwords, genders, birthdays, and home addresses of approximately 5 million parents and 200,000 children.
“[..] these connected devices present a risk to parents’ data and security as well, as hackers may begin to see connected toys as the weak-link in a family’s home network,” U.S. Senator Mark Warner said.
Warner, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has raised concerns over the lack of security around networked connected toys and the risks families are exposed to such as data privacy violations and surveillance. He disclosed his position in a letter to the Federal Trade Commission urging measures be taken to strengthen IoT security.
“One – we have minimum consumer protection standards, two – that we have more disclosure, three – that we actually have independent organizations that will evaluate the safety of these toys and items, not just in terms of physical harm to your child, put potentially the cyber harm of personal information that might be invaded by cybercriminals,” Sen. Warner added.