Sinclair Cares: Privacy at risk with connected toys

Hackers can take control of cameras on Internet-connected toys to spy on you. (Sinclair Broadcast Group)

Payton Bird and Chris Nochez said they think a robot car kit would be a pretty cool gift.

The car comes with a wireless camera, it hooks up to the home Wi-Fi, and it is controlled by an app on a tablet or phone.

But as much fun as it might be, this toy and others like it are vulnerable to hackers.

"They put this toy away, I was able to then turn it back on, point the camera directly at them, and zoom in and see exactly what they were doing," said Travis Smith, a "white hat" hacker.

And he said it was easy.

"This took me two hours to figure out how to break into this specific toy," Smith said.

Smith works for Tripwire, a technology security company.

"Any device that you put on your network is increasing what we call your attack surface," Smith said.

Payton's mom said she thought she was security-conscious at home.

"But I never thought of anything with cameras or people being able to peer in," she said.

Since this toy is designed for kids to learn about software coding, the company making it said: "People can learn things, and the security issue is not so considered."

Many companies do what they can to keep their systems secure, but Smith said there are steps consumers should take.

"No. 1, change the password. No. 2, apply updates when available. No. 3, power it off if you don't need it," Smith said.

It is not just your children at risk.

"While your child is playing with this toy or it is sitting on the counter and you are logging into the bank account from your phone, I could potentially use this robot to spy on all of your banking information," Smith said.

Covering a toy's or computer's camera is a quick and easy way for anyone to increase their privacy in case hackers get into your system.

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