A new study on smartwatches made for children has revealed a number of serious security flaws, some of which could allow hackers to track the devices, take a picture on a watch’s camera, eavesdrop on a child’s conversation, or even communicate with a child.
The study was done by the Norwegian Consumer Council. The NCC examined Gator 2, Tinitell, Viksfjord, and Xplora smartwatches. While these are known to be popular in Norway, it’s possible to find some of these watches on sale in the U.S., as well. Some of these manufacturers use different names in different countries for the same products. (Tinitell has released a statement noting that their company’s watch was the safest in the study, which has led the company to claim to be the “most secure solution on the market.”)
The Gator 2 and the Viksfjord smartwatches had the most obvious security flaws, with both prone to account takeovers and location spoofing. The Viksfjord smartwatch could also be turned into a “remotely controllable listening device, or alternately provides means for an attacker to communicate directly with the child.”
Nevertheless, all of the watches seem to have a number of issues when it comes to how the companies store personal data and how it is used. The NCC also found that safety features on the smartwatches were poorly implemented and unreliable, giving parents a false sense of security.
The NCC questions these manufacturers, saying they “do not have the will or the means to make safe products.” Consumer groups in the U.S. will be following up on the NCC’s findings, the Norwegian group claims.
In the NCC’s full study, the consumer group concludes: “Overall, we have uncovered many serious problems with smartwatches for children. It seems clear that consumers currently should think twice before purchasing these or similar devices.”
This study makes us skeptical about the security of child smartwatches in general — even smartwatches from more well-known companies in the U.S. We urge any parents to do their research before purchasing such a device, and other options — secure tracking apps or Bluetooth trackers — may be better solutions.
(H/T Business Insider)