The rise of the Internet of Things has been both a blessing and a curse to avid tech-users. In fact, the vulnerabilities that IoT present now seem to extend to children’s toys and baby monitors too. Read on to find out what risks these parenting devices pose and how to stay safe while using them.
Children’s Toys and Baby Monitors – The Full Story
The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre and other security services recently warned British families of the threats posed by the children’s toys and baby monitors that can connect to the internet.
In fact, the vulnerabilities are so potent that Malwarebytes warned against buying Smart toys and devices completely earlier this year. The truth of the matter is that toy and monitor developers aren’t following industry standard security measures at all. Even though news of Toy breaches have been around since 2015, developers don’t seem to be fixing these wide-scale vulnerabilities.
Perhaps the biggest problem we have here is the fact that none of this is recent news. Security experts have been warning the public about the problems Smart Toys and IoT baby monitors pose for a few years now. To highlight how old this security risk is, here’s a statement released by the DCA back in 2016 warning parents about the risks of baby monitors.
The good news is that governments are finally taking note of these dangers, as a new code of practice has finally been issued to the manufacturers of children’s toys and baby monitors. While the code itself is voluntary, it’s still a step in the right direction. So far, Centrica Hive and HP have signed up for this code of practice, which clearly states that:
- Devices must NEVER have default passwords.
- The software should be updated for security regularly.
- All security vulnerabilities must be revealed to authorities.
That being said, the UK government is looking into options that can help further the compliance of these companies further.
How to Keep your IoT Children’s Toys and Baby Monitors Secure
The IoT isn’t as safe as one would hope. Whether we want to believe it or not, children’s toys and baby monitors can be easily hacked or used to gather data and information. However, there are steps that parents can take to ensure the privacy and security of their children. If you’re a new parent wondering how to keep your child secure without giving up on our modern-day tech, make sure that you cover these steps to a T:
- Do Your Research. Always make sure that you research the toy/monitor you want to get. Look into previous cases of privacy concerns and vulnerabilities. Most importantly, check to see if the manufacturer regularly updates their firmware for security fixes.
- Never Stick with the Default Password. Change the password of the device as regularly as possible and always use a strong and unique password. This makes your password difficult to crack.
- Keep the Device Up to Date. Make sure that you’ve registered the product so you can receive notifications about the updates rolling in. Always install any security update issued by the manufacturer.
- Turn the Device Off Sometimes. Develop the habit of turning off your devices when you’re not using them. As easy as it might be to hack into a baby monitor, any attempt would be null and void if the monitor isn’t even turned on.
- Install a VPN on your Router. Get yourself a credible VPN provider and install the client on your router. A VPN on your router will extend its security and privacy features to all connected devices, including your Smart children’s toys and baby monitors. Our experts recommend using ExpressVPN for its impeccable security and privacy features, but you can check out this list of providers too.
The Risks of Children’s Toys and Baby Monitors – Final Thoughts
I won’t lie, the idea of someone using devices made for babies and little kids for their own personal gain is absolutely revolting. That’s why it’s very important for parents to stay up to date with what’s going on with these toys and monitors. Despite its dangers, the internet is a repository of information. Always do your research before you purchase any IoT device, especially ones aimed at your little ones.