TECH SA: FBI explains dangers of smart toys; what parents should know

Some features could put privacy, safety of children at risk

SAN ANTONIO – In this week’s TECH SA, the FBI talks about the dangers of smart toys and what parents should know about the devices. 

“Think of the devices not just as toys, but as cameras and microphones that are connected to the internet,” FBI Special Agent Jim Thompson said. 

Thompson is assigned to the crimes against children team. 

“The people who want to do bad things to children online go where the children go. So there’s forums or social activities that a toy is a part of,” Thompson said. 

He said these toys are part of what they call the internet of things. 

“Which is where there is a trend, where you are connecting everything to the internet,” Thompson said. “There has been some incidents, where these types of toys they store a large amounts of information and poorly secure it, so it becomes hacked. That has nothing to do with the device itself, but it’s the company that runs the device,” Thompson said. 

Some new toys have microphones, cameras and even GPS options. Some of these features could put the privacy and safety of children at risk. 

“We do investigate a lot of data breaches and security breaches with devices. These toys are nothing, but another device. Another computer system,” Thompson said. 

Thompson said there are some things to consider. 

“On the security side, can the device be hacked by a curious computer hacker or someone that wants to do something more nefarious,” Thompson said. 

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