Thinking about providing a GPS Smartwatch to your children, grandchild so their location will always be known to you and they can signal to you if they are in danger?  PLEASE think hard about this decision. A selection of GPS Smartwatches were recently tested by the Norwegian Consumer Council took a look at these devices and their results were alarming. How alarming. They should scare the crap out of you scale of alarming.

The Norwegian Consumer Council tells us, “Smartwatches for children work as a smartphone that communicates with the parents via an app. Parents can communicate with their child through the mobile phone function and track the child’s location via the app.”

“It’s very serious when products that claim to make children safer instead put them at risk because of poor security and features that do not work properly. Importers and retailers must know what they stock and sell. These watches have no place on a shop’s shelf, let alone on a child’s wrist.” says Finn Myrstad, Director of Digital Policy at the Norwegian Consumer Council.”

What they found is that the devices are mining the data, with narry an opt-in or opt-out option to be had. Including location history of the GPS Smartwatch. While it makes sense that location data would be transmitted from the GPS Smartwatch to the parent’s or grandparent’s smartphone running the app, the storage of historical data for unspecified purposes should be enough to put a full stop on putting the device on your child’s wrist.

Furthermore, unauthorized parties could access the personal data on the GPS Smartwatch and the accompanying app. Think about that. The council research reveals:

Potential attacks could reveal information about the child’s location, provide unauthorised access to accounts, allow the attacker to manipulate the information given to the parents about the child’s location, enable room bugging and more.

Sadly, companies rush product to market hoping to be first and fill an identified niche in the race of being first in the Internet of Things (IOT) marketplace. With ever increasing frequency the manufacturers forget about privacy and security concerns, and think they can bolt on solutions for these concerns. It’s called the 80 percent rule of product development – get the product out the door when it is 80 percent ready and we’ll just update the product as we go.

Unfortunately it means products like these GPS Smartwatches end up putting your children at risk, while keeping them safe … quite the contradiction.

When employing new whiz-bang IOT technologies into your life, please take the time and do detailed research to make sure that you are comfortable with the level of privacy and security of being afforded to you.

For the Norwegian Consumer Council’s letter to the data protection authority in Norway  – CLICK HERE (English).

The council worked with a Norwegien security company, “mnemonic” to investigate the flaws.  Mnemonic’s write-up and report are available for review – CLICK HERE (English)


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