With Christmas underway, many parents in the EU will have bought their children toys for Christmas. And in the digital age, a lot of these toys will be “connected” toys; for example, smart robots, voice-activated items, or similar. However, the European consumer rights group, BEUC, has warned that there’s a lack of protection for children against these toys, which is mostly due to a lack of legal framework.
According to the leader of the group, the cybersecurity risks posed by these toys could be very damaging to children. Furthermore, in the worst cases, they could be so dangerous that they shouldn’t even be kept at home in the first place. One of the safety issues relating to these types of toys is their ability to record data and transfer data to others. At the moment, children aren’t protected against these risks.
It’s estimated that around 80% of toys are produced in China – a country that is frequently under the spotlight and is known for poor standards in terms of cybersecurity. There’s been a great deal of publicity surrounding Chinese markets in particular. For example, the UK National Cyber Security Centre recently revealed a number of campaigns designed to access sensitive information across Europe, the US, and other Asian countries.
A previous study, carried out in 2016 in Norway, shows that some of these toys have major security flaws, as a lot of them work through Bluetooth connections and access information on the internet. And despite many of these toys having very limited safety features to protect users’, and there being no way of removing the data that’s stored in them, they are freely available on the market.
There have been numerous cases of so-called “smart toys” being hacked, by intercepting the Bluetooth signal. As long as the device is switched on, anyone within a certain radius of them will be able to gain access to them. For example, someone standing outside the person’s house could be able to access all information; and, even more worryingly, they might be able to transmit their own messages through the device itself. This could be a major risk, especially for young children.
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