Data Breaches Put Spotlight on Growing Threats to Kids' Data Privacy
With a major breach at toy maker VTech and privacy advocates criticizing Mattel and Google, 2015 put a spotlight on the growing threats to children's privacy.It has not been a good year for children's privacy. On Nov. 14, digital thieves breached two services at toy maker VTech, compromising the company's Learning Lodge app store and Kid Connect servers and accessing information on more than 6.3 million kids and their 4.8 million parents. While parents' accounts included names, email and IP addresses, password retrieval information, mailing addresses, download history and encrypted passwords, most of the children's data consisted only of their name, gender and birth date. In some cases, however, photos and unsent messages may have been stored as well, the company said in a statement. "Upon discovering the breach we immediately conducted a comprehensive check of the affected sites and are taking thorough actions against future attacks," the statement said. "The investigation continues as we look at additional measures to strengthen our Learning Lodge database and Kid Connect security."
The breach has forced the Hong Kong-based toy firm to refocus on securing data. Yet, VTech is not the only company to fall afoul of privacy issues. Toy maker Mattel received loud criticism earlier this year for its marketing of Hello Barbie, a version of the well-known doll that converses with a child, but also sends the conversations to a third party for processing—and alleged data mining—and which apparently has wireless flaws that could allow a hacker to eavesdrop on the conversation as well.