Toy Companies Need to Tighten Up Security

As a parent of two youngsters I am both shocked and disappointed that this week two of the major toy manufacturers, Mattel and VTech have been pulled up with security breaches in their products.  There is a worrying trend with internet enabled children’s toys and security concerns that makes me think we should stop and think before considering purchasing toys of this nature.

We actually own a few different VTech toys and only one connects to their Learning Lodge technology.  Now me being me, I didn’t put in real data, as I thought it would be more sensible to put in non security critical data and I am glad I did. VTech have not been in touch with their customers to let them know about the security breach that they had and hidden in their terms and conditions the following caveat:

8. Security
We take security seriously and we take precautions to keep your personal information secure. We have put in place appropriate physical, electronic and managerial procedures to safeguard the information we collect. However, due to the open communication nature of the Internet, we cannot guarantee that communications between you and us, or information stored on our servers, will be free from unauthorised access by third parties.
So basically they take no responsibility for their own security and the risk that this poses to you and your children. I thought it would be interesting to then look into Mattel’s equivalent terms and conditions to see if this is common place…
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES WILL ANY MATTEL PARTIES BE RESPONSIBLE OR LIABLE FOR ANY LOSS OR DAMAGES OF ANY KIND
So there you have it. They too take no responsibility for the fact that your child could be being watched by complete strangers via the internet if they are using for instance the Wifi Barbie toy that was released this year.
My advice to parents is that you should strongly consider the risk that you are putting your child at by giving them toys that have the ability for someone to identify who they are, where they are located and to be able to watch them remotely.  Unless you are a web security expert any toys that connect to the internet to configure them are a risk as are those that ask for your data, your childs data and location information.
Maybe I am being paranoid but I would rather be safe than sorry and I wanted to share what I had found about the terms and conditions of these companies as it seems incredibly irresponsible of them to not secure their systems to protect the children using their toys.

Interestingly the BBC have just followed up with this article highlighting issues around “smart” toys.

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