The safety of our kids is of utmost importance for us parents and we all know there are monsters lurking online waiting for the next opportunity. Every parent’s fear became reality last year when hackers reportedly accessed the personal information of 4.9 million parents and more than 6.4 million children through VTech’s app store, Learning Lodge. The Learning Lodge provides content for VTech tablets for kids and its Kid Connect mobile app service that lets parents communicate with those tablets.
What hackers can do to stolen identities of kids
This breach in security exposed how vulnerable kids’ toys are especially tablets for kids with wifi due to their weaker security. Identity thieves can pose as their victims in order to get loans, or credit cards. Kids have no credit record so hackers can use their identities to start with a clean background. Kids won’t know this until they become adult themselves. Criminals can use the identities of the victims to evade the authorities. Or worse, imagine what these criminals can do with data such as your name and address, your password and your child’s age and gender.
Lessons from VTech Hacking?
Having your information hacked from a child friendly website was unthinkable yet it happened. This breach is an eye opener for parents to be very careful in choosing tech toys for kids. Tech toy companies with data of millions of children and parents on their sites should take security matters seriously. These companies should also be penalized for breach such as this.
VTech upon discovery of the breach immediately notified its customers and the company conducted a comprehensive check on all its sites. The company said it has temporarily suspended its Learning Lodge and Kid Connect service to protect the site from further attacks.
VTech reported that they hired a cyber forensic team to help boost its security and that they are also cooperating with law enforcement worldwide to investigate the data breach. So far, one arrest in the United Kingdom has been made in connection to the VTech hacking. The hacker reportedly attacked VTech to highlight its poor security.
It is not only tech toys for kids that we should carefully monitor but also educational apps and games especially if kids connect online. Even apps such as Minecraft can be used by criminals. Kids connect online while playing Minecraft in multiplayer mode. But then how can we be sure that the persons on the other end are actually kids?
Tips on How to Keep Your Child’s Privacy
Cybercrime is a reality of today’s generation and technology is here to stay so we all have to learn how to deal with it. Here are some tips on how to keep your child’s privacy.
- Keep kids offline. Once your kid’s information get hacked, there’s no turning back. The safest is to keep kids offline. There are tablets for kids that uses cartridges and do not need to connect to the internet. These are much safer compared to those which connect online and these are appropriate for younger kids.
- Check your privacy settings on social media. As parents we are always too excited to share to friends and family the milestones of our kids. Before doing that, please check your privacy settings and make sure you are only sharing to the right people.
- Use fake identities for your kids. If you need to input data about your child in order to gain access to educational apps or for a personalized experience, you can always use a fake name and picture. We should also monitor our kid’s use of gadgets that connect to the internet.
- Educate the kids on cybercrimes. It’s easier to control tablet use of preschoolers but it’s a different case for tweens and teens. Besides, older kids will learn a lot from various apps and educational videos online. It is then our responsibility as parents to teach our older kids how to use connected devices responsibly and how they can protect themselves from becoming victims of hackers and other online criminals.
- Keep the communication lines open. It is always best to keep talking to our kids. We wouldn’t know there’s something wrong if we don’t keep communicating with them.
Technology is changing so fast but as parents we also have to learn ahead of our kids so that we always stay on top of what’s happening with them. Until they are old enough to be responsible for themselves, it is safer that we keep a closer tab on our children’s use of technology.