Welcome to the  FBI’s Tech Tuesday segment. This week, building a digital defense against Internet-connected toys.

This holiday season will bring stockings hung by the chimney with care… but you should give serious thought to the toys that you might find in there. New-fangled gadgets—including dolls, robots and the like—are now coming with “smart” technology to entrance the little tyke. Personalization is key, and that means learning what your kid is all about. This can lead to serious privacy invasion, make no doubt. Tommy’s new toy may capture his likes and locations with voice recognition… GPS, microphones, and video recording are all part of the proposition. Samara’s big gift may soon know where she lives, goes to school, and plays in the park

And it can send that info to back to the company, leaving you in the dark.

Parents, we’ve given you plenty of reason. Now, it’s time to get serious about keeping your kids safe this holiday season. So how do you do it?

  • First, research the toy and its manufacturer. Check to see if any hackers have successfully breached the company’s database in the past and try to determine the level of security the corporation uses to protect its customers.
  • Second, turn on all possible internal security devices. If a password or even dual encryption option is available, use it. Likewise, if the company offers an update or software patch, install it immediately to protect against possible hacking vulnerabilities. Also, make sure any WiFi system connected to the toy is equally secure.
  • Third, read all disclosure statements offered by the company in order to understand the purpose and destination of the information being collected.
  • Finally, monitor the use of the toy. When not in use, turn the toy off completely to avoid automatic systems, such as GPS or voice recording, from continuing to collect data.

And with that parents, this holiday season you, too, can make sure that you bring safe and secure toy joy to your little girl and boy.