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Ways to protect children from getting hacked this holiday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Be careful this holiday season when gifting electronic toys. Why some of Florida’s top officials are warning families to be cautious of hackers.

We’ve all probably seen by now the hacks from ring security cameras and by laser, and it’s really quite easy to do. But it’s not just those cameras that have the potential of being hacked. Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis warns parents of safety concerns for electronic holiday gifts..

“The voice assisted speaker is becoming an appliance in our homes, I keep one in the bathroom, I wake up in the morning and it tells me my morning news routine," said Patronis.

Hackers are not only able to gain access into smart speakers and security cameras but children’s toys.

“There’s an angle of fraud that has now started to evolve with these and that’s with devices that look like a laser pointer,” said Patronis. "But it’s actually a communications device that can trigger the speaker to commands that you already have pre-negotiated to a garage door or a lock to give access to your house.”

Patronis recommends, before turning on the toy to know all the electronic features. Does it connect to the internet? Does it have a camera or microphone? These are top questions to ask when purchasing.

Now the FBI recommends this, when it comes to using these toys.

  • Ensure the toy is turned off, particularly those with microphones and cameras, when not in use
  • Provide only what is minimally required when inputting information for user accounts
  • Use strong and unique login passwords when creating user accounts
  • Only connect and use toys in environments with trusted and secured Wi-Fi internet access, if you want to take it a step further connect devices directly to a modem

Finally the FBI and Patronis recommend closely monitoring your child’s activity. They say when it comes to children using products connected to the internet, there is no such thing as a over-bearing parent. We all know the dangers that come with the internet.


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