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(from Data Breach Today)

The data breach involving Hong Kong toymaker VTech highlights a growing concern over manufacturers selling many more devices that are Internet-connected, yet apparently failing to safeguard those devices – and related information that gets collected and stored – against even the most rudimentary types of online attacks (see Toymaker VTech Hacked: 200,000 Kids’ Data Exposed).

Of course, that trend is no surprise to anyone who’s been following the rise of the so-called Internet of Things, which refers to the wave of Internet-connected devices found everywhere from enterprise and medical realms to homes and schools (see The Internet of Buggy Things). No doubt, however, many people have downplayed the theoretical privacy harm posed by the family’s Internet-connected refrigerator getting hacked and shopping list stolen. But the actual risk posed by insecure, Internet-connected devices has now been highlighted for millions of people in the wake of VTech acknowledging that personal data about children, as well as their plaintext chat messages and encrypted audio recordings and photographs, were recently compromised in a data breach.

The apparent severity of the breach at VTech, which reported annual revenue of $1.9 billion earlier this year, has continued to increase since the company first confirmed Nov. 27 that it had been breached, with the latest count of breach victims hitting 11.2 million people. In its most recent breach notification, released Dec. 2, the company says that on Nov. 14, “an unauthorized party accessed VTech customer data” connected with the databases and servers behind these services:

  • Learning Lodge: An app store for downloading apps, games, e-books and the like onto VTech products.
  • Kid Connect: A service that allows parents to use an Android or iOS app to chat with their kids who are using a VTech tablet.
  • PlanetVTech: An online virtual world that the company says is “designed for kids 6+” and allows them to “interact with other children in a safe, text-controlled format,” as well as to “make friends.

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