Report: Low-end smart watches for kids come with serious hacking - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Report: Low-end smart watches for kids come with serious hacking risks

Pixabay/file photo Pixabay/file photo
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

A coalition of consumer groups is asking the Federal Trade Commission to launch an investigation into safety concerns in smart watches for children. This comes on the heels of a frightening new report from the Norwegian Consumer Council, which tested several watches and found critical security flaws.

The researchers were able to hack into the tracking element, and easily find the location of the watch wearers. Many of these watches include an app the parents can use to track a child. The hackers spoofed a phony location to that app, so it looked like the wearer was in one location, when he was actually far away.

The researchers also hacked into the cameras and microphones on several of the kids’ watches, allowing them to eavesdrop and even communicate with the wearers. If that isn’t creepy enough, the researchers say the data isn’t encrypted and was easily sent to servers elsewhere. That means if hackers get into a kid’s watch camera, someone in another country could watch them.

Kenton County Commonwealth’s Attorney Rob Sanders say he knows parents buy gadgets like this to protect their kids, but without the proper safeguards that could backfire in a big way.

"Unfortunately, when you’re talking about cheaper versions of something, like technology, there’s a reason it’s cheaper, and sometimes that reason is there’s not nearly as much money spent on the safety of that product, and the security of that data that it holds," Sanders said.

The consumer groups are asking for the FTC to act fast, given how serious these risks are. Meanwhile, one watchmaker has pulled its watches from store shelves, and others are trying to shore up the data security.

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