With three weeks before Christmas, many parents are still looking for the perfect gift. But a recent security breach at a major toy manufacturer should give some consumers pause.
This week, it was reported that data of 6.4 million children had been compromised with a cyber attack on digital toymaker VTech Holdings Ltd. Among Canadians, 316,482 children's accounts and 237,949 adults' accounts were affected. Experts called it the largest known hack targeting youngsters.
Rick Ellson has been information technology field for 30 years. Here are his tips to make sure information about children stays safe.
1. Be careful with putting all of personal information online.
He said parents should always ask themselves two main questions when asked to sign up:
Why do they need this information?
What does this have to do with the service they're providing?
"Don't get too personal with the information that you're putting up there because you may lose control of that," said Ellson. "Once it's out there, you've already lost control of it."
2. Always use a secure transmission when signing up online.
If you have to register online or download an app for a toy, make sure you're using a secure HTTPS connection over a computer network.
3. Make sure the company you're purchasing from is valid.
Be cautious of revealing any information if you're purchasing a toy online from an unknown seller or company.
Ellson said big toy companies do have security in place but it's a leap of faith because you're not going to see it.
"You're just going by what [they say] their policies are," he said.