A tool to help parents may have turned into a nightmare. According to a new report from a Norwegian consumer group, kids’ smartwatches designed to help parents keep track of and communicate with their above-average children may be vulnerable to hacking.
The study from the Norwegian Consumer Council and security firm Mnemonic revealed significant security flaws in some kids’ smartwatches manufactured by XPLORA, Viksfjord, and Gator. The watches are intended for children who are too young to own a phone (or whose parents don’t want to plunk down $1,000 for an iPhone, but want some peace of mind). The smartwatches have a built-in GPS tracker and a phone that can call only approved phone numbers. Parents can track their kiddos through an app.
The security flaws, though, could let someone (besides parents) hack the watches and turn them into covert spying devices that could both listen in on and track children–and even send false GPS data making it seem like the kids are safe when they are actually living out some nightmare out of It. The NCC also expressed concern over the fact that the Gator and GPS for Kids’ watches transmitted and stored data without encrypting it.
At least one major department store in the U.K. has already pulled the watches from their shelves over fears of spying, per the BBC. The Gator watch manufacturer says it has already moved to a new encrypted server and was developing a new, more secure app for customers.
We have reached out to the companies for comment and will update with their response.