Christmas shopping tip: make sure your toys have good internet security

Credit: kirill_makarov /

ITEM: Thanks to the IoT, we have now reached a point where parents shopping for Christmas gifts for their kids have to think about whether the toys are connectable, and how good their internet security is.


Connected toys and kids’ wearables are primed as hot Christmas items this year. Which is fine and well and so cool that I find myself wishing this technology had existed when I was a kid. Which, by the way, was when Richard Nixon won his first US Presidential election, which means my toy technology was more along these lines:

However, we’ve all been made aware this year that many IoT devices have serious security problems – so much so that hackers are using malware like Mirai to turn connected things into a botnet platform to launch massive DDoS attacks on DNS servers.

Then there’s the privacy aspect of toys that leverage that connectivity for cloud-based interaction with kids. Just this month, privacy groups reportedly filed complaints with the US Federal Trade Commission and the European Union about Genesis Toys and tech partner Nuance, claiming that its i-Que and My Friend Cayla toys capture kids’ voices without adequate notice or permission, and sent them to Nuance without adequate safeguards for handling that information.

And so here we are in 2016, where your toys can potentially spy on you or be gangpressed into a botnet army. What are parents to do?

Well, Trend Micro has helpfully put together this infographic listing eight considerations to keep in mind when purchasing hot and trendy smart gifts for young children.

Source: Trend Micro

Also available: an interactive quiz to tick off the checklist before making that purchase and a smart buyer’s E-Guide [PDF] for more detailed info.

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