Is Your Kid’s Toy Collecting Personal Information?

  • Posted on: 2 November 2016
  • By: OCS Communications

Emily McReynolds, with UW's Tech Policy Lab, talks about the “internet of things” at the 2016 National Cyber Security Awareness Month kickoff.

We live in an age where the smart toy your child plays with not only talks back, but can track usage, record everything it hears – and then store that information on the cloud.

Other internet-connected devices are making their way into our homes as well – including thermostats, refrigerators and AI assistants – that track and record personal information. While these gadgets may make life easier, they also provide potential targets for cyber criminals.

Those issues and more were discussed at the National Cyber Security Awareness Month, NCSAM, kickoff held recently in Bellevue and Spokane. Our office brought together leading experts from across the country to discuss cybersecurity issues.

The State Office of CyberSecurity, OCS, has a long history of collaborating with the private and public sector to protect Washington residents from cyber threats. OCS hosted the kickoff, in partnership with the federal Department of Homeland Security, to increase awareness about the growing threats.

We invite you to check out our YouTube videos of the speakers, including:

  • U.S. Chief Information Security Officer Gregory Touhill, who outlined what he’ll be doing as the nation’s first CISO. Touhill spoke about plans to make the country more secure from cyberattacks, and also discussed what private citizens can do to protect their information. 
  • Emily McReynolds, program director at the University of Washington’s Tech Policy Lab in Seattle, talked about the “internet of things,” the unexpected ways in which new devices collect our personal information, and the privacy implications.
  • Our panel of privacy experts who discussed cybersecurity issues around the use of drones and autonomous vehicles. On the panel: McReynolds, Aravind Swaminathan, of Orrick, Steve Marshall, with the Center for Advanced Transportation and Energy Solutions, and Alex Alben, Washington State’s chief privacy officer.
  • College students, educators and industry representatives who talked about the rapidly growing cybersecurity job sector. Thousands of high paying jobs go unfilled each year because there are not enough skilled people to fill them. Former students who attended Whatcom Community College’s Cybersecurity Center talked about how that program helped them in their careers. And a workforce panel highlighted the Microsoft Software Systems Academy, which trains military veterans for cybersecurity jobs.

OCS, in addition to protecting personal information stored on state networks, acts as a resource for the public to keep up to date on the latest cyber threats and learn about best practices to keep their information secure.

Please check out our web page regularly for new updates and information.