This Christmas people are buying more and more internet enabled toys and voice activated assistants. BEWARE! These devices are prime targets for hackers wanting to get into your home network and disrupt your life. Because these devices communicate with the internet through your home or office WiFi network, they become vulnerable to outside attacks on your personal data and possibly even eavesdropping on conversations in your home.

The devices are no different than a phone or computer connected to your WiFi, except that people tend to forget that security is just as important on these devices as any other device you use online.

Here are some tips to help you safeguard your new toy or assistant.

  • Only connect essential accounts. If your not using the device for reminders, don’t connect the calendar. Enter minimal personal information, username and email are usually enough.
  • Never use default usernames or passwords. Make sure your passwords are strong and enable two-factor authentication (2FA) when available.
  • Always install patches and updates when available, especially the device firmware. Make sure your own PC or connected devices are protected and secure. Make sure you have set up a secure WiFi network.
  • Double check that you are connected to your secure home network and not a random WiFi hotspot.
  • Use voice recognition if available.
  • Turn off or mute the device when you are gone for a long period of time to avoid unauthorized commands from strangers. Make sure the toys are turned off when not in use.

More on toys

  • If the toy uses Bluetooth to connect, make sure it requires pins or passwords when pairing to other devices.
  • Make sure your data is being transferred to secure websites (https://), and investigate where the data is going, being stored, and how the company may use the data it collects.
  • Just have your kids play outside off the grid. (just a personal note)

More information: NBC Articles |  FBI Warning | Washington Post

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