After VTech’s database leak that compromised the personal information of more than 6 million child users, more parents are aware of their child’s susceptibility to identity theft and the strength of their personal security, especially when connected to the Internet. The latest data breach to affirm these concerns involves Japan’s beloved cartoon character, Hello Kitty.
CSO Online broke the news that Sanrio, the Tokyo-based company responsible for the Hello Kitty brand, had its database for sanriotown.com, the official community for Hello Kitty and other Sanrio characters, published online. The database contains the information of 3.3 million user accounts, including full names, birth dates, email addresses and encrypted passwords, and also leads to other Hello Kitty portals. CSO Online reports that two additional backup servers were also discovered online, with the first logged exposure on November 22, 2015.
While it’s unclear if financial information was also leaked in the database, the breach does raise concerns about the minors it could have compromised. Because Hello Kitty has such big appeal with a young demographic, and the site hosts games and community forums related to Sanrio brands and characters, it’s possible that the database leak included a lot of information about child users.
Wired Magazine reports that while Sanrio has yet to make an official comment on the extent of the damage other than to say that the site is “currently under investigation,” it’s still wise for site users of any age to reset their passwords. Chris Vickery, the security researcher who first reported the hack to CSO Online, explains that the breach also included password reset information so all users should consider their passwords as well as password security questions compromised. He added that if a password used for sanriotown.com was used on any other website, that password should be changed immediately too.
For parents, it’s important to instill good online security habits in your children. When identity theft affects a child, it often goes unnoticed for years and can worsen over time. To help prevent this kind of damage, The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) recommends educating children. ITRC says using a program like “Stay Safe Online,” provided by the National Cyber Security Alliance or “iKeepSafe” can be great tools in teaching kids about identity theft and cybersecurity. Parents should also be sure to closely monitor their children’s online activity and keep track of their accounts and passwords. Parents should help their children create strong passwords, which are more than eight characters with a variation of letters, numbers and symbols, and change them often.
If you’re concerned about your online security and how it increases your vulnerability to identity theft, consider signing up for tools that monitor your credit files and assess your online security risks. Identity Guard’s Total Protection plan and Privacy Now service are two great tools to help you keep your identity and personal information protected.