How Safe Are Smart Toys: Protecting Kids from Digital Spying

Published Categorized as Guide

In the era of advanced technology, smartwatches for kids have emerged as trendy gadgets. They serve dual purposes: promoting physical activity among children to combat rising obesity rates and enabling parents to monitor their kids’ whereabouts remotely. However, recent revelations by Norwegian security experts have cast a shadow of doubt on the safety of these devices.

Unveiling the Risks

Harrison Sand and Erlend Leiknes, Norwegian security researchers, unearthed an undisclosed backdoor in a European smartwatch designed for children. This backdoor, embedded by the Chinese company Qihoo 360 and rebranded by the Norwegian firm Xplora, facilitates remote access to capture camera images, eavesdrop on voice calls, and track locations. The implications of such vulnerabilities are alarming, considering the widespread use of these smartwatches across Europe and the U.S.

Understanding the Concerns

The smartwatch, priced at around $200, operates on the Android platform and boasts features like voice calls and emergency messaging. Parents can conveniently monitor their children’s movements through a dedicated app. Despite assurances from Xplora regarding the backdoor’s security, concerns persist due to multiple entities having access to the backdoor, including both Xplora and Qihoo 360.

The Technical Side

Sand and Leiknes meticulously documented their findings, demonstrating the remote upload capability by commanding the device to capture images. They emphasized that the backdoor is not a mere oversight but a deliberately engineered feature, raising questions about the intent behind its implementation.

Historical Precedents

The security lapse in smart toys targeting children is not an isolated incident. Past cases involving Vtech Electronics and warnings from the FBI underscore the pervasive risks associated with internet-connected toys. From privacy breaches to data leaks, the vulnerabilities in these gadgets pose serious threats to children’s safety and privacy.

Ensuring Child Safety

To mitigate the risks posed by smart toys, parents can adopt several precautionary measures:

1. Use of VPN

Deploying a Virtual Private Network (VPN) on smartphones or routers can enhance security by encrypting internet traffic. By safeguarding the connection between smart devices and the internet, VPNs minimize the risk of unauthorized access and data breaches.

2. Strengthen Wi-Fi Security

Maintain robust Wi-Fi passwords to deter hackers from infiltrating home networks. Avoid connecting smart toys to public Wi-Fi networks, as they are susceptible to interception and exploitation.

3. Practice Vigilance

Encourage children to exercise caution while interacting with smart toys. Limit the information shared during registration and emphasize the importance of privacy and online safety.

4. Stay Informed

Stay abreast of emerging threats and vulnerabilities associated with smart toys. Report any suspicious activity or malfunctions to relevant authorities for investigation and resolution.

5. Educate Children

Empower children with knowledge about online privacy and security. Teach them to recognize potential risks and practice safe internet usage habits from an early age.


1. How prevalent are security risks in smart toys?

Security risks in smart toys are increasingly prevalent, with several instances of privacy breaches and data leaks reported globally.

2. What steps can parents take to protect their children’s privacy?

Parents can enhance their children’s privacy by using VPNs, strengthening Wi-Fi security, educating them about online risks, and staying informed about emerging threats.

3. Are all smart toys susceptible to hacking?

While not all smart toys may be vulnerable to hacking, the interconnected nature of these devices exposes them to potential security threats.

4. How can children benefit from using smart toys?

Smart toys can promote learning, creativity, and engagement among children, but their usage should be balanced with considerations for privacy and security.

5. What role do manufacturers play in addressing security concerns?

Manufacturers play a pivotal role in addressing security concerns by implementing robust encryption protocols, conducting regular security audits, and promptly addressing reported vulnerabilities.

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