ARE YOU TOYING WITH DANGER?

There’s a whole minefield of cyber security risks out there – but have you considered the ones related to your kid’s toys? We take a look at the latest tech-enhanced toys on the market.

It’s not just parents’ data getting stolen: Christmas shopping for toys is riddled with risks. The toy giant Vtech has just admitted that 4.8 million children’s and parents’ records were stolen from their system due to poor cyber security and a lack of encryption. Date of birth, emails, addresses, IP addresses were taken and put up for sale on the Dark Net, forcing the company to suspend their trading on the stock exchange. Avoid toys that use the ‘Internet of Things’ and are ‘connected’, as the only thing you connect to is your neighbourhood hacker. The toy suppliers are simply out of their depth in terms of cyber security, and with no global digital security standards in place the risks are only going to increase.

Hello Barbie? Hello hackers. Barbie has launched a new doll that invites children to chat using a built-in microphone and Wi-Fi. Kids can ask questions, which are then processed by artificial intelligence at Mattel and sent back to the doll which pretends to be a chat partner. Alas, a large number of cyber security problems were identified, not least an authentication code that can be re-used by any dodgy hacker. It also happens to connect the doll to any unsecured Wi-Fi that has ‘Barbie’ in its name. Retailers should boycott Mattel for their cyber security negligence. Barbies are bad for your girls in more ways than one. Leave them well alone and introduce them to Minecraft!

Prying eyes: Newborn babies are not immune from spying eyes as Russian hackers found a way to hack into Internet connected baby monitors. Many parents simply leave the webcam default password and unknowingly open their houses to any cyber-intruder that may have a passing interest in the content of the baby’s room. If you’re buying a new webcam for Christmas, change the password and keep changing it on a regular basis. While you’re at it, keep an eye on your teens using Facebook, as the social media giant is well known for their excessive interest in your private phone calls.

It’s a fabulous world: Fabulous Beasts is a new game concept that invites a child to create a physical creature, put it in front of a tablet, and use the tablet’s scanner to create a 3D image of the beast. Great fun, but watch out for what else the scanner is going to capture in your kid’s room, as fabulous beasts of other sorts may get snapped too. With that aside, it’s one to support as the Kickstarter opens in January 2016. Videos here.

Now you’re talking: One interactive toy that’s a must is the Aldebaran robot that teaches kids how to speak a new language. It’s a robot companion to a tablet-based course, which can observe kids’ body language and will respond when they get stuck. It can hear and store children’s conversations, so the (Paris-based) company needs to stay ethical and cyber secure. We hope it doesn’t use the speech data acquired for promoting Coca Cola to the hapless pupils.

Next week the The Retail Practice team is going to the U.S for a retail safari and we’ll be bringing you e-retail news from across the pond – follow us on Twitter for updates!