Although toys have come a long long way over the past few decades, parents are right to be concerned about getting young kids toys that connect to the internet. If you were considering purchasing a 21st century stuffed animal for your 21st century kid, you might want to consider getting something other than a Cloudpet.
Actually, considering the massive data breach suffered by Cloudpets, you might just want to avoid getting kids any sort of toys that connect to the internet, or at least avoid being an early adopter.
What's a Cloudpet?
Basically, a Cloudpet is a stuffed animal that can connect to an internet server and has a digital recorder and speaker inside of it. A child can record a message on the stuffed animal, and send the message to pre-selected individuals, all by using the stuffed animal. Parents, family, and friends, can access the messages, and send messages back, using a smartphone app. Sounds smart, right?
Unfortunately, despite how smart of a smart toy the Cloudpets can be, the makers, after last Christmas, were caught having forgotten to provide any meaningful security for the database that stored the messages sent via and to the Cloudpets. Not only were the messages themselves potentially exposed, but the usernames, user photos, email addresses, and even passwords were potentially available to even low-skilled hackers. After the lack of security became public knowledge, hackers held the database for ransom, and presumably after not getting paid the ransom, deleted the database.
What Should Technologically Challenged Parents Do?
Even if you consider yourself tech savvy, the following can help make sure you don't buy a child a toy that can expose both child and parent to malicious hackers:
- Don't rush to be the first one to buy the latest or newest tech. Let others work out the bugs.
- Run internet searches on the products alongside terms like "safety," "scam," and "danger."
- Assume anything done or shared over the internet via a toy, or kid's device, is public unless you are certain that it is not.
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