New Child Smart Watches Under Threat from Hackers

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The recently released MiSafe child tracking smartwatches have been under an immense amount of scrutiny in the press because of how easy it is to hack one of these devices. A recent BBC News article discovered that a ‘security researcher found the devices neither encrypted the data the user nor secured each child’s account’. Considering how frequent cyber security pops up in the news, this is a major blow for the wearable technology world.

Instead of keeping children safer, it seems like these watches are putting children in danger. The security researcher that spoke to the BBC exposed MiSafe and announced that hackers would be able to track children’s movements, listen into conversations and make spoof calls to the watches.

The MiSafe watch was originally released in 2015 and has been updated since. The main concept of the MiSafe watch was for parents to be able to see where their children were by using the GPS and 2G connection implanted in the watch. Furthermore, parents could call the children to check up on them. However, recent news of data not being encrypted has given parents across the country a fright.

This news comes fairly soon after the news that baby monitors were incredibly vulnerable to online hackers because of their connection to the internet. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) found vulnerabilities in existing baby monitors that would allow would-be attackers to obtain audio from the devices, or to change information about the position and temperature of a child in their room’. This kind of news will have parents petrified as it not only endangers the safety of their baby but the health of it as well.

However, once this news was publicised the NCSC jumped into action and insisted on new guidelines for the baby technology industry – calling for manufactures to guarantee the safety of each of their products. With the amount of internet connected devices increasing at a rapid rate, especially in an area such as children/baby technology, the public are unsure whether the NCSC can give parents a 100% guarantee.

The situation has become labelled as critical, with Russian websites actually streaming live videos of babies via baby monitors – a true reality check to any technology manufacturing company out there. The advice shared by the NCSC, manufacturers and public is to review security, privacy and password settings.

According to Pen Test Partners, hackers were able to; ‘retrieve real time GPS coordinates, call the child, send audio messages, retrieve a photo of the child and acquire the name, date of birth, gender, weight and height of the child’. Furthermore, hackers are able to listen to any audio from the child by making a call without knowledge of the child or parents. With various news companies such as the BBC and The Huffington Post chasing a response from MiSafe, it’s clear that they aren’t in any rush to face the public.

Wearable technology has received a lot of praise recently, for example smart watches from Apple and Samsung have collected a lot of positive feedback. However, clearly when developing technology for kids – the security clearance of it will be under the microscope. And clearly, tech manufacturers aren’t quite there yet and with news blasts criticising the security of child tech, it will be a hard sell to any parent this coming Christmas.

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Riana is a sports journalism graduate, online copywriter and a weekly contributor at Dispatch Weekly. Regularly covering stories including home interior, sports, entertainment and other general news topics, she dedicates her spare time to playing professional women’s football.