Tips for Securing Your Child’s IoT Devices
The Internet of Things may seem like the latest technological craze to sweep the world but it looks like this one is here to stay — the IoT has been labeled by some as the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ is a testament to the wide-ranging effects it is expected to have on businesses and industries.
Whilst you may not be familiar with the term ‘IoT’, you most likely use the technology on a daily basis. Devices that fall under the term ‘Internet of Things’ are also known as ‘smart’ — smartwatches, smart security systems, and smart cars. Essentially, any device that connects wirelessly to a network and remotely transmits data is a member of the IoT.
Internet of Things devices extends connectivity beyond the confines of laptops, tablets, and phones to a broad range of everyday objects including children’s toys. Kids thrive off interactivity and IoT toys can provide fun and engaging learning experiences. However, as with any online device, it is important to be aware of the steps that need to be taken in order to create a safe and secure environment. Internet of Things security is a major concern for many internet security providers and governmental organizations, and with very good reason.
What is the IoT?
The IoT refers to the billions of interconnected devices around the world that utilize data to create a personalized user experience. IoT devices are embedded with sensors and software that allows them to collect and share information with other systems, tailoring our interactions with technology and making everyday tasks easier.
The emergence of several different technologies has facilitated the development of the IoT including low-cost, low-powered sensors, cloud-based storage platforms, and artificial intelligence.
Examples of everyday IoT devices that you might find inside your home include smart home security systems, wearable health monitors, smart light switches, and universal remotes.
Further afield, IoT technology has recently found its way into the business, industrial and agricultural sectors. It is expected to play a substantial role in future urban planning and the battle against rising global emissions.
What IoT devices might your child have?
The entertainment industry has always benefited from emerging technologies, whether it be the 1920s arrival of ‘talkies’ (movies with sound) or the 2007 release of the very first iPhone. Connected toys are now commonplace in many homes and whilst they may be popular with children, it’s important for parents to be aware of the types of security concerns associated with these devices.
Parents should be immediately cautious of any toy that contains a camera or microphone, has GPS capabilities or internet connectivity. The makers of these devices may not have malicious intentions but that doesn’t prevent cybercriminals from taking advantage of lax security systems in order to obtain personal information and endanger children.
IoT toys and children’s devices that you may have in your home could include baby monitors, smart toothbrushes, wearable devices (including fitness trackers for kids, and GPS monitoring systems), and tablets designed to teach children to read.
There are many benefits to these toys. They can allow you to keep an eye on your child from afar, track their location, and can teach a variety of skills in a fun and interactive manner however there are many legitimate concerns that have been raised regarding the security of IoT devices. Cyber safety for kids has never been more important and so you may want to think twice before bringing another connected toy into your home.
IoT and security
Given the amount of data that we freely hand over to IoT devices, Internet of Things security should be a foremost concern for all consumers. Connected devices collate masses of personal information that can be used by cybercriminals to infiltrate home networks and commit a range of cybercrimes including identity theft.
There are several steps that you can take to secure IoT devices and connected toys:
- Install reputable security software on all connected devices.
- Create strong and unique passwords for all accounts, using a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters.
- Conduct research before you purchase any device that has network capabilities. It is important that you know who is accessing your information, where it is being stored, and if it is being shared with third parties.
- Use a VPN to provide a secure and private network connection.
- Regularly visit the firm-makers’ website to check for security updates.
Following these steps is vital in order to ensure your children are accessing the online world in a secure manner. IoT toys can provide endless hours of learning and entertainment but before purchasing that connected device, be sure that you are taking the appropriate measures to safeguard your home and family.