Beware security risks of smart toys this holiday season

Smart toys are always hot holiday gifts. They can speak to kids and help them learn as they grow.

But they also come with security risks.

According to the “Trouble in Toyland” report, there are several toys still being sold that retain more information than you might realize.

One of them is a newer toy that hit the market called Mario Kart Live Home Circuit. It uses a camera to turn your room into a virtual race course.

Public Interest Research Group researchers found the camera can pick up everything in the room, including expensive items that may be in it and images that could reveal the user’s identity and location.

Cloud Pets is a type of walkie-talkie that lets kids send voice recordings to loved ones long distance. But in 2017, a database of more than 2 million recordings was hacked.

A year later, one research group found the data issues were never fixed.

Major toy retailers stopped selling Cloud Pets that year, but some can still be found on eBay.

“V-Tech,” which is behind several smart toys, has also been previously criticized by the Federal Trade Commission for collecting data on more than 600,000 children through its Kid Connect app.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group recommends that parents read a toy’s description to understand the technology it uses and how their child will interact with it before they buy.

It’s also a good idea to search the toy’s name and manufacturer online to see if they are linked to privacy concerns.

If a toy requires an online account, be sure you use a strong password and only submit the minimal amount of personal information needed to make the account.