back to article Year after being blasted for dodgy security, GPS kid tracker biz takes heat again for leaving families' private info lying around for crims

A manufacturer of child-tracking smartwatches was under fire this week following the discovery of a second major security lapse in its technology in as many years. Back in late 2017, Gator-branded wearables were among various kid-monitoring gizmos raked over the coals by Norwegian researchers who found the devices were trivial …

  1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    FAIL

    I'm not sure which is worse

    The company's lack of interest in security, or the ignorance of parents who actually put their kids in danger with this crud.

    Sorry, but this makes me so angry, and there's no nice way of saying it :(

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm not sure which is worse

      I know which I think is worse: the for-profit company that should be expected and mandated to perform better. Not parents who, mostly, genuinely think they're making a safe and wise decision for their kids. Tougher penalties for companies who fail to meet safe standards should be applied too. Whether it's unsafe toys that may come apart and be a choking hazard or poorly written applications that potentially expose kids to risks not made apparent to consumers, there should be a minimum responsibility to be upheld.

      Parents (of which I am one) generally DO want what's best for their kids. My son is only 2 and a half so way too young for ANY kind of connected tech or significant screen time but as his dad, I want to look after him. Most of the time currently this means actually doing some parenting: most of his waking time is spent with his parents, family or guardians. But at some point he'll be old enough to need to be more independent and there will be a period of time where he's wanting to explore his independence (which we'll wholeheartedly encourage) but when he'll be too young to be completely off the radar. Additionally, as someone who was something of a rascal when I was much younger, I realise that my parental responsibilities don't end when he leaves the house. In fact, it could be argued that that's where they really begin.

      If technology can help bridge that gap, letting us know where he is (until he's old enough to have earned the level of privacy that makes his whereabouts none of our business) and that he's safe and that he's not being an idiot (and, let's face it, at some point in their youth, most of us males tend to be fairly stupid at times), then I'm all for it.

      It's just a shame that I have to be skeptical of the products that claim to be able to help with this.

      1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

        Re: I'm not sure which is worse

        It's a shame that parents want to abrogate their responsibilities so much.

        Yes, crap products are crap. Which is why we "caveat emptor". But the decision to buy/use crap products is 100% the responsibility of the parent. This is particularly true with "new" technology: by definition, it's not "necessary" (as we survived without it before), so a parent who decides to put it into use is making a decision, and they can't simply shrug off the implications of that decision on the basis that it involves someone else.

        Don't get me wrong: crap products are *also* 100% the responsibility of the manufacturer. But there's more than 100% to go around, or rather both parties can be to blame, equally or otherwise.

        But who has more skin in the game? The crap product manufacturer, who stands to lose the few quid they might get flogging their kit, or the parent, who stands to lose their kid?

        Right.

        So be paranoid. You care. Crap manufacturers don't. And knowing that, if you still buy crap, whose fault is that?

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: I'm not sure which is worse

          "And knowing that, if you still buy crap, whose fault is that?"

          The manufacturer of the crap and the marketeers selling it are at fault. Why should the average parent have to be an infosec pro to decide if something marketed as a security device is crap? They need some sort of regulation and standards. You don't need to be an automotive mechanic to able to choose a decent car, you just need to know how to drive it.

          1. Cuddles Silver badge

            Re: I'm not sure which is worse

            "You don't need to be an automotive mechanic to able to choose a decent car, you just need to know how to drive it."

            You don't need to be a mechanic in order to choose a car, but you're a fool if you just blindly buy one without doing some basic research on the matter. While it seems to have become sadly fashionable these days, refusing to learn anything at all while giggling about how terrible you are with technology really isn't acceptable behaviour. These watches are a perfect example - two seconds on Google throws up multiple articles including Which, the BBC and the Telegraph reporting how hilariously insecure they are to the point that major retailers withdrew them from sale. You don't need to be an infosec pro to recognise there might be a problem, you merely have to care enough about your children to consider them worth maybe 10 seconds of your time.

            As Malcolm said, there's plenty of blame to go around and manufacturers obviously don't get off scot free when they're the ones making this shit. But neither do parents get to deny all responsibility while laughing about how complicated computers are. It doesn't take an infosec pro to read the very first Google search result from a well respected media outlet saying "Absolutely do not buy one of these, and if you already have one throw it out immediately". Seriously, when a Which review goes so far beyond not recommending a product that they actively advocate destroying your possessions, it really shouldn't take a genius to wonder if just maybe you shouldn't be strapping the thing to your kids.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: I'm not sure which is worse

              "It doesn't take an infosec pro to read the very first Google search result from a well respected media outlet saying "Absolutely do not buy one of these, and if you already have one throw it out immediately".

              That may well be true for those who bought after the vulns were found and reported. But how long were they on the market before the reports made the mainstream press and rose to the top of search results? And not forgetting that most people have short memories and are likely to believe the marketing, especially on impulse buys.

              1. Cuddles Silver badge

                Re: I'm not sure which is worse

                "That may well be true for those who bought after the vulns were found and reported. But how long were they on the market before the reports made the mainstream press and rose to the top of search results?"

                That's a fair point, and I have sympathy for people who actually did do at least some minimal research when there wasn't anything for them to find. But these things have been on sale for 18 months since then, and despite all the warnings they were only looked at in this paper because they're still very popular.

                "And not forgetting that most people have short memories and are likely to believe the marketing, especially on impulse buys."

                Which is exactly the problem. There's no point complaining that companies are at fault for making shoddy products when the only reason they do so is because people blindly buy said products and strap them onto their children without a moment's thought.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I'm not sure which is worse

          Have some pity for those poor parents. They don't really have time to care after the children they decided to generate. How could they follow their Whatsapp and Twitter feeds, update their Facebook and Instagram pages with photos and video of their toddlers, while boasting about them, if they had to actually spend some time with them and taking actual care of them? Of course a techno-placebo is what you need. Something that will give you the illusion you actually care of your children when actually you don't.

        3. LucreLout Silver badge

          Re: I'm not sure which is worse

          It's a shame that parents want to abrogate their responsibilities so much.

          That isn't what he's doing; that's the opposite of what he's doing.

          But the decision to buy/use crap products is 100% the responsibility of the parent.

          If they were labelled "crap" the parents probably wouldn't buy them. There are literally not the hours in a day to personally test every product your child might come into contact with. That's sort of why we have rules, and regulations.

  2. Dan 55 Silver badge

    So, any smart watch which just syncs to the app...

    ... instead of to the app and then from there to the cloud?

    Not even kids' smart watches seem to do this, and you'd have thought they should have least have this as an option.

  3. Andytug

    It's more likely to be the companies' problem - for falsely advertising these things as safe.

    Parents can only make an informed decision if they're given all the correct information - if the product is sold as secure and isn't then the company is to blame. If it's not sold as secure then it's the parent's fault for just looking at the shiny and not the reality.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's more likely to be the companies' problem - for falsely advertising these things as safe.

      Parents can only make an informed decision if they're given all the correct information...

      And who's going to offer all the correct information?

      The manufacturer? Don't make me laugh, it's all marketing these days, not information.

      Someone who reviews the product? More marketing bullshit.

      Some 'independent' organization? With a generous grant from the manufacture, right?

  4. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    This is normal

    Companies make money by selling more crap - it doesn't have to be secure, reliable, or even really work well - it just has to look good and have a sweet marketing policy ... won't someone think of the children, parents - you must buy this to keep your kids safe, you would be a monster if you didn't care about keeping your kids safe!

    Boss: "Great Marketing guys! sold another 2 million last month!"

    Tech: "Er, there's a security issue ..."

    Boss: "Fire that sod, we're going to lunch with the marketing group - triples all round"

  5. Aodhhan Bronze badge

    Interesting comments

    ...so how many of you are so put off by this company's lack of due care to their customers, that you called your government representatives and encouraged them to create laws to prevent these types of breaches?

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