The recent hacking predicament that Spiral Toys endured was not the first toy-based hacking problem of late. Seemingly innocent and innovative toys have recently been under investigation with regards to their ability to breach data and privacy at the least and a full-blown hacking dilemma at the worst.
From the CloudPets hacking incident to Hello Barbie, Cayla, and VTech, it looks like even children's toys are no longer safe from hackers.
In mid-February, Germany banned the popular Cayla doll, a talking doll that uses Bluetooth technology to connect to the internet in order to intelligently interact with its owner and even answer some of their questions via Google search. Germany's telecommunication watchdog has since ruled the doll's technology as unsafe. Popular toys such as the Hello Barbie and VTech also encountered such problems with their products.
In the case of CloudPets, it was the toy's ability to record messages and send them to faraway loved ones that was its undoing. The company's usage of an insecure cloud server opened all their data to hackers, threatening to expose all the private and sensitive data gathered from the thousands of unsuspecting children with the stuffed animals. It doesn't seem like much of a threat until you consider the fact that the threatened data comprised of over 800,000 personal user accounts and over 2 million recorded messages.
Hacking The Internet-Of-Things
In the beginning of the year, experts already warned that over 500,000 IoT devices will likely be compromised by Distributed Denial of Service, or DDoS, attacks and data breaches in 2017. These breaches can occur not just with sophisticated internet devices but also with basic, everyday IoT devices such as smart home appliances. This is an especially relevant warning from the experts, as more and more people continue to rely on IoT devices in their daily lives.
In fact, not even the medical industry is safe from hackers, as the FDA continues to warn manufacturers of medical devices, from pacemakers to more sophisticated hospital equipment, to ensure the safety and security of their products. Further, the FDA also advises hospitals to ensure the security of their records to avoid serious hacking problems.
Because of these threats, the FDA issued a new set of guidelines that could possibly protect the medical industry from cyber attacks.
Safeguarding Children From Hackers
In the case of the IoT toys, it was the manufacturers' lack of focus on the security of their data that rendered them vulnerable to hacking. As such, parents are advised to be very careful when giving their children access to internet-based items. Further, extra care should be made in making passwords for online accounts even for simple apps such as the ones in CloudPets.
It would be close to impossible in today's world to completely safeguard your kids from any internet based devices, but stressing the importance of internet safety and security to children should also be given equal importance as the many benefits and conveniences that the IoT offers.