Children's identities at risk
Science

Children's identities at risk

Hello Kitty security loophole fixed

Sanrio, owner of popular character Hello Kitty, said that it has fixed the security loophole in its website SanrioTown.com after researcher Chris Vickrey uncovered a leak in its database.

Children who make up most of SanrioTown's community have been advised to change their passwords.

Meanwhile investigations are underway to determine if a data theft has been committed.

Timeline

Fact: The implications of child identity theft

In the US, identity thieves steal social security numbers, identification numbers issued to Americans to track their credit records. As children don't usually take credit, a child's identity theft goes undetected for a long time.

4 Feb 2015: The Anthem breach

The Anthem breach

Anthem, the second largest healthcare insurer in US, declared the unprecedented security breach of its database to its customers.

An estimated 80 million records were exposed, that included records of millions of minors.

Concerns were immediately raised over identities of minors being exploited by identity thieves, who could get away by misusing the social security numbers of the minors.

14 Nov 2015: Vtech leak exposed

A hack into Chinese educational toy maker Vtech's servers exposed records of over 64 million children.

The records included photos of kids, chat logs between kids and parents,email addresses, mailing addresses and passwords.

The breach drew attention to the lack of proper security of digital toys, as compared to other computer products.

Vtech claimed that no financial information had been compromised.

Fact: Boom in the digital toy sector

The digital toys sector is steadily rising. Shipment of toys that connect to the internet are set to rise by 200% over the next five years, according to estimates by UK-based Juniper Research.

23 Nov 2015: A Barbie or a hacker toy?

A Barbie or a hacker toy?

Security researchers warned that Mattel's latest wifi-enabled 'Hello Barbie' could be potentially used to snoop on kids.

'Hello Barbie's Wi-Fi feature allows the doll to interact with children.

Protestors have raised concerns over the toy being misused by Mattel to record children's likes and dislikes.

The toy could be used as a surveillance device to dig up personal and financial information.

Fact: Hello Barbie or Surveillance Barbie?

“Kids talking to Hello Barbie aren’t just talking to a doll.They’re talking to Mattel...a multinational corporation whose only interest in them is financial", said Susan Linn from the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, which is trying to get Mattel scrap the doll.

19 Dec 2015: Researcher finds leaked Hello Kitty database online

Researcher Chris Vickrey uncovered a leak in a database from the Hello Kitty's online community, SanrioTown.com.

The database contained the personal information of 3.3 million user accounts belonging to both children and adults and had neglected additional measures of strengthening password encryption.

Parents have been warned over their children becoming victims in case the database falls into wrong hands.

Fact: What is Hello Kitty?

Popular character Hello Kitty was created in 1974 by the Japanese company Sanrio for their kids merchandise. Hello Kitty took Japan, then other countries by storm, valued at ~$7 billion by 2014.

24 Dec 2015: Hello Kitty security loophole fixed