By: Steve Dellar | 10-18-2017 | News
Photo credit: @productkard | Twitter

Hackers Target Kids' Smart Watches

For busy parents of young children who think that their offspring is not ready yet to be running around with the latest Samsung or Apple phone, smart watches are the next best thing.

It does the task of helicopter parenting (being able to know what your child does at any time as well as where it is) whilst offering the next best thing in electronic gadgets so that your child can compete with peer pressure from classmates. Some watches even offer the possibility to send a small text to the parents.

However, smart watches, especially those aimed at kids, offer poor protection when it comes to hacking possibilities. If breached this would allow strangers to track your children and even pose as you for communicating with them.

For this reason, US consumer groups have taken up the issue with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) asking them to forbid certain watches till more appropriate security can be installed.

Mr Josh Golin, executive director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, said: "You have a watch that's being marketed as keeping children safe and a way for people to keep tabs on their children, that's actually putting children at risk."

His organization, along with others, asked the FTC to have a look at these devices before the busy Christmas period comes around.

"I think we're used to seeing cheap products for children. If it breaks after six months, that's one problem," Mr Golin continued. "But if we're talking about a watch that a stranger can easily hack and track where your child's location is, that's much more serious."

The groups demanding better security for kids smart watches tested various models: the Gator 2 watch (also called Caref), the Xplora watch and the Tinitell and found all to have issues.

The problem is reminiscent of last year’s scandal involving a doll called My Friend Cayla, which recorded what children said to them and would the, based on an internet algorithm, come up with an answer.

During a journalistic investigation, Mr Ken Munro of security firm Pen Test Partners showed that the doll could easily be hacked and he let it respond with foul comments.

In many European countries the doll was pulled from stores after the controversy. The case before the FTC is pending.


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