Blog: Consumer Advice

Consumer Advice: Kids GPS tracker watch security

Ken Munro 15 Nov 2018

Parents are advised to rethink using GPS tracking watches for their children as a result of serious security concerns.

Tracker watches can be worn by children and report their position to their parents via a mobile app. They are designed to increase child safety: you always know where your child is.

However, our research shows that many of these watch brands actually decrease the security of the child and expose them to those with unpleasant intent.

We demonstrated that anyone on the internet could:

  • locate your child on a map in real time, such as at the play park
  • call your child on their watch
  • covertly snoop on both you and your child, listening to you both
  • send messages to your child on the watch, appearing to be from you
  • retrieve a photo of your child, plus their name, date of birth, gender, weight & height

This did not require advanced skill, it was well within the capability of an attacker with basic coding skills using only free tools.

Our research was carried out on watches branded ‘Misafes kids watcher’ and appears to affect up to 30,000 watches. However, we discovered at least 53 other kids tracker watch brands that are affected by identical or near-identical security issues.

So far, we have gathered data that indicates at least one million tracker watches in use today are affected.

The same watches are branded differently between countries, so it is difficult to conclude whether any kids tracker watch is secure.

We’re not alone in doing GPS tracking security research. Vangelis Stykas and Michael Gruhn published a report on the security of GPS and location tracking services that they named Trackmageddon.

What should you do?

We recommend that you do not use a GPS watch to track your child, owing to serious security concerns that threaten both you and your child.

If the manufacturer of the watch can provide you with evidence that their system is secure, then it would be reasonable to continue using the watch.