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December 5, 2017

Day 5 - How does Santa cope withCybersecurity?

We are living in the digital era. Therefore, it is no surprise that the most desired Christmas presents come in the form of smart toys and devices aimed at children, that now contain technology connecting the toys and devices to the internet. Santa and his elves have been extremely busy keeping up to date with the technological development, innovation and creative uses of personal data. However, Santa’s advisor has now warned Santa of not doing so with the expense of people’s legal rights and the right to privacy. Santa’s advisor was especially worried of the current growth in toys concerning microphones, sensors, cameras, data storage and other multi-media capabilities that could potentially pose a risk to the privacy and safety of children.

Now Santa’s advisor has urged Santa to check on the safety of presents he is planning on giving to children. As Santa’s advisor said, the same way he wouldn’t want to give a child a physically dangerous toy, why would he risk giving children something that can easily be hacked by total strangers? In the same manner as safety standards are an essential consideration when manufacturing toys, Santa should really give a thought to the child’s online safety, while simultaneously considering the potential threat to his own personal data and that of all his staff, such as bank details, if a toy, device or a supporting app is hacked into. Unlike Santa, hackers do not care whether children have been naughty or nice, so Santa’s advisor has asked Santa to consider the following:

  • Santa should pay attention to security before giving the present to a child. Santa should discard all toys and devices with poor security. If Santa ever decides to use subcontractors or becomes so busy that his helpers cannot manufacture all wishes and thus, Santa decides to order online, he should carefully read through the manufacturer’s privacy policies and security notices. Santa should also assess whether the product will be updated in the future and how security issues are going to be identified.
  • When shopping online for components and materials for his workshop, Santa should be extra careful as at this time of year, as there is a lot of scammers trying to access personal data, including bank account and credit card details. Santa should only use sites that are secure, that usually carry a symbol the shape of a padlock.
  • Santa should make sure that all passwords and usernames are changed from default, as many are feely available online. He should also create a different combination of usernames and passwords for each site and device and change them on a regular basis.
  • Santa should make sure that his router is secure, as it is the so called “first line of defence” on the perimeter of his network. If Santa has devices connected to his network, the default settings of his router might be exposing them to the internet and subsequently, everyone else. Santa should create a strong password and look out for and install security updates.
  • Santa should be extra careful when manufacturing toys and devices with a camera. If the camera is not set up correctly, it might pose a great security risk, as the baby monitor hacking issue proved a few years ago. Santa should also advise parents to switch the camera off if the child and/or parents are not planning on viewing footage online.
  • GPS watches and devices are now a hit, and it is easy for parents to know where their children are at all times with the help of these devices with the ability to track its users. However, Santa needs to keep in mind that if the tracking is not done securely, hackers and third parties may have access to the location data.
  • And finally, Santa should avoid manufacturing toys with unencrypted WiFi connections or unsecured Bluetooth connections, as they can easily be accessed by strangers.