FBI: ‘spy’ toys record kids’ conversation and reveal their location

The FBI has issued an urgent notice concerning “smart” toys that are packed full of sensors, cameras and microphones to record children’s words, as well as GPS locators to track their whereabouts which pedophiles can exploit.

Smart toys are toys that are connected to the Internet either:

  • Directly, through Wi-Fi to an Internet-connected wireless access point; or
  • Indirectly, via Bluetooth to an Android or iOS device that is connected to the Internet.

On July 17, 2017, the FBI issued this alert to consumers:

“The FBI encourages consumers to consider cyber security prior to introducing smart, interactive, internet-connected toys into their homes or trusted environments. Smart toys and entertainment devices for children are increasingly incorporating technologies that learn and tailor their behaviors based on user interactions. These toys typically contain sensors, microphones, cameras, data storage components, and other multimedia capabilities – including speech recognition and GPS options. These features could put the privacy and safety of children at risk due to the large amount of personal information that may be unwittingly disclosed.

The features and functions of different toys vary widely. In some cases, toys with microphones could record and collect conversations within earshot of the device. Information such as the child’s name, school, likes and dislikes, and activities may be disclosed through normal conversation with the toy or in the surrounding environment. The collection of a child’s personal information combined with a toy’s ability to connect to the Internet or other devices raises concerns for privacy and physical safety. Personal information (e.g., name, date of birth, pictures, address) is typically provided when creating user accounts. In addition, companies collect large amounts of additional data, such as voice messages, conversation recordings, past and real-time physical locations, Internet use history, and Internet addresses/IPs. The exposure of such information could create opportunities for child identity fraud. Additionally, the potential misuse of sensitive data such as GPS location information, visual identifiers from pictures or videos, and known interests to garner trust from a child could present exploitation risks. “

The FBI has the following advice for parents:

  • Only connect and use toys in environments with trusted and secured Wi-Fi Internet access
  • Research the toy’s Internet and device connection security measures
    • Use authentication when pairing the device with Bluetooth (via PIN code or password)
    • Use encryption when transmitting data from the toy to the Wi-Fi access point and to the server or cloud
  • Research if your toys can receive firmware and/or software updates and security patches
    • If they can, ensure your toys are running on the most updated versions and any available patches are implemented
  • Research where user data is stored – with the company, third party services, or both – and whether any publicly available reporting exists on their reputation and posture for cyber security
  • Carefully read disclosures and privacy policies (from company and any third parties) and consider the following:
    • If the company is victimized by a cyber-attack and your data may have been exposed, will the company notify you?
    • If vulnerabilities to the toy are discovered, will the company notify you?
    • Where is your data being stored?
    • Who has access to your data?
    • If changes are made to the disclosure and privacy policies, will the company notify you?
    • Is the company contact information openly available in case you have questions or concerns?
  • Closely monitor children’s activity with the toys (such as conversations and voice recordings) through the toy’s partner parent application, if such features are available
  • Ensure the toy is turned off, particularly those with microphones and cameras, when not in use
  • Use strong and unique login passwords when creating user accounts (e.g., lower and upper case letters, numbers, and special characters)
  • Provide only what is minimally required when inputting information for user accounts (e.g., some services offer additional features if birthdays or information on a child’s preferences are provided)

If you suspect your child’s toy may have been compromised, file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, at www.IC3.gov.

It’s not just children’s toys that spy on you.

Jasper Hamill reports for The Sun that last year, a sex toy firm released a “spy-brator” that has a built-in camera for women to film themselves using the vibrator. Tech security experts later claimed it’s possible to hack into the sex toy and peer through the camera fitted inside its tip.

See also:

~Eowyn

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11 responses to “FBI: ‘spy’ toys record kids’ conversation and reveal their location

  1. allow pedophiles access to watch them, teach ’em while they are young that they aren’t entitled to privacy…and while they are at it, give them radiation devices as toys so they can also be future cancer cases for the pharmaceutical and medical industries…
    the fbi should issue the same “warning” for the people who buy “alexa”, “siri”, and similar devices where corporations/govt are in your face recording everything you say and do…
    “Suspect OKs Amazon to hand over Echo recordings in murder case”
    http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/07/tech/amazon-echo-alexa-bentonville-arkansas-murder-case/index.html
    also…if these devices are only supposed to record when you say the name (like “alexa”), then how did the machine wind up recording the entire incident? and how are they able to record perfect audio while music is playing from the device itself?

    Liked by 4 people

  2. When I buy a new TV, I’ll be taking it to a TV repair shop before hooking it up to have the video and microphone recording circuitry removed. I already keep tape over the cameras on my computers. The FBI are such hypocrites. Yep, they really care about the children, Hah. All bets are off when these children become adults and have “smart” homes and appliances that video and record everything.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Many schools today send laptops home with the kids and they spy on the household. Even my granddaughter has a mini-tablet that connects to the internet. She has been caught ordering stuff from Amazon. She’s four!

    The “smart” appliances won’t allow you to adjust your own equipment past the Agenda 21-prescribed settings. “The walls have ears” is now a true statement.

    All of this is planned. It is not happening “organically”. Your local government has agreed to engineering your future, like it or not. In exchange they’ve won valuable prizes. You haven’t had anything to say about it. You won’t in the future either unless you throw the parasites out.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Thank you Dr. Eowyn for this fascinating post. This is simply sickening and is a clear indication of the lack of dignity and respect in this world.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. We are living in 1984… Sad really.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Remember being amazed when a doll’s eyes closed when you laid her down?

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Those dolls have the same look as Hilary supporters, or television anchors.
    All this Wifi is bad for your health anyway, especially for kids and older people. Then the electronics break very quickly and it’s a waste of money.
    Plus what’s going to guarantee that the NSA doesn’t already eavesdrop using these things anyway?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Scary stuff. Must be tough watching out for your kids today with all the technology and social media.

    Like

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