If you have children, or you have nieces, nephews… or grandchildren even, you might be concerned about how to keep them safe in the world we live in today. And one would hope all this new technology must be good for something? Eventually you’ll have to face the reality that they are going to be active on the Internet, which comes with its own laundry list of issues, but while they are still young, there are number of products out there that some tech savvy parents are using in an effort to keep their children safe.
I’m talking about these new Internet of Things (IoT) devices, generally in the form of a watch, (or Wearable Device) which are designed to keep track of your children and allow them to communicate with you. You can see where they are, see where they’ve been. You can create a whitelist of phone numbers they can call, or who can call them. And they are generally locked down to those few functions only. Seems like a good idea?
Now you may have also heard of the large number of these devices that are reportedly easy to hack! The most recent one of these showed the Safe-KID-One by Enox Group apparently had a serious privacy issues, which could potentially allow someone to track or communicate with kids remotely. Now for a device which is, at the core, designed to protect kids, this does not fill one with great confidence at all.
Now I believe this watch has since been recalled, but it does highlight one of the most serious and emerging threat in Cybersecurity world today – new attack vectors for Internet of Things (IoT) devices. In simple terms this means the bad guys are targeting the thousands of new IoT devices which are continuously appearing on the market… and the device manufacturers are just not investing in an adequate amount security and privacy in the manufacturing processes and inherent controls in the devices to make them safe.
I’m not saying don’t buy these devices, and I’m not saying they all has security flaws. I’m just saying, when you are considering purchasing any new IoT devices, make sure you do some research first to ensure you are comfortable with the potential security and privacy risks that might come along with it. Are you comfortable with the company that made the device? Do they have good security development practices? How much personal data does the device have access to? Etc.
Getting back the issue of children safety and privacy, I personally think the new Screen Time function available on Apple mobile phones/tables, through family sharing, is a wonderful addition. Along with the standard calls, text and location tracking, whitelist applications – they will always have to request a new application for your approval – you can also restrict the daily amount of screen-time they have. So at the end of the week you can sit down with your child and review how much time your child they have spent of various applications and activities.