Tech Toys And Child Protection – The Internet Of Toys By Laurenti de' Medici

29/01/2016 07:44

Tech Toys And The Child Protection In The Age Of The IoT.

The “Internet of things” (IoT) is no longer just a topic of conversation at your workplace or outside of it. It is no longer just a concept with some potential impact on how we live and how we work. The IoT is happening right now. It is already here.

The number of the connected devices (Internet of Things) into people’s homes and their day-to-day routines is on the rise. Moreover, will continue to grow. By 2025, your home is going to have at least ten active IoT devices.


You already have a smart TV. By the end of 2016, you are going to buy a new smart fridge. In 2017, you’ll get a smart vacuum cleaner. Then, a new smart alarm to keep your connected items safe. Add to this a new smart heating system. By 2018, your Virgin ISP will let you have a free in-house digital healthcare system.

You’ll get the kit at the same time with the new router and your upgraded internet contract. Part of Virgin’s new partnership with F.C.A. and the N.H.S.

digital heath systems at home

By 2020, every house in the U.K. will have a Digital Health System, connected in real time to N.H.S.

Most of these IoT devices, you are going to use and interact with, in domestic environments to begin with. In your home, in your school, in the nurseries. These smart devices are going to improve your life. These connected devices will clean for you. Protect you. Keep you safe and healthy.

These IoT devices are here to save you time. The lesser time you spend “tech-ing” around, the more time you’ll have for the loved ones. However, despite all the positives, we must not ignore the privacy risks that these smart devices bring with them.


Last year was the year of hackers. You’ve seen on the news powerful, big corporations brought down to their knees. Hacked. Over and over again. I am sure you still remember “the Sony hack.” Or, a more recent case, the hacked database of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

More than 21.5 million government employees were exposed. Lab employees and cleared spies alike had their secrets spilled. These people had their lives put at risk.

You might have also heard of the Juniper NetScreen Firewalls hack. The Ashley Madison hack. The Gemalto hack. The Kaspersky Labs hack. We can go on, and on for hours.


biggest hacks of 2016

World’s biggest data breaches In 2015. Showing losses over 30.000 records and up.

Let’s get this straight. Even the most powerful governments in the world are far from immune to hackers. Do you still believe that some cheap products like the internet-connected dolls and baby cams are better protected?

Wrong…I have a better example for you. An example that is very much related to our subject today: Child protection in the tech toys era.

It goes like this. It happened last year. It was late November. A toy manufacturer from Hong Kong, VTech, wasn’t using SSL or encrypting passwords for its line of children’s tablets. For hackers, stealing VTech‘s data was just a “child’s play.”

tech toys can be hacked. Example, the vtech was hacked in 2015

VTech requested personal info from parents about their families which they then lost in a massive data breach.

The result was a security nightmare. You are looking at 6.4 million exposed children. Millions of children have “lost” their data. Their names, their email, their download histories, their passwords, IP addresses, photos, password recovery info, audio and video recording.

All these details, together with the children’s real names, their genders and their dates of birth. Even their home addresses. Shocking, isn’t it?


And still, I see a total dichotomy in our attitude towards the security of the internet in one hand, and the most vulnerable parts of our society on the other hand.

We pay great attention to the pornographic or violent materials our children could come across online. We honeypotthe sexual predators. And yet, when it comes to the tech toys, the protective sensibilities seem to be forgotten. We don’t care.

Nobody cares if a certain tech toy manufacturer does not employ experts in infosec. Experts that could raise possible issues with the new smart toys before rolling them out of the factory’s gates.


We always had problems with “connected” devices. The vulnerable webcams alone is still a massive problem these days. Take for example Shodan. A new search engine for smart, connected devices. Shodan can search the Internet, looking for IP addresses with open ports. If an open port streams a video feed and also lacks the authentication, Shodan takes a snap.

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