What are the Risks of Having a Child Tracking Device?

The Rise of Child Tracking Devices

Child tracking devices are becoming more popular and they have some real advantages for parents. But these devices are not entirely risk-free. So are child tracking devices worth using?

Child tracking devices are GPS (Global Positioning Software) – and in some cases, Bluetooth – enabled devices which allow parents monitor the movements and locations of their children. Their movements can be monitored from nearby but are more frequently utilized in social situations. Child tracking devices are small and often incorporated into accessories children would normally use. These accessories include items such as headbands, wristbands, watches and pins which can be attached to clothes and bags.

The popularity of child trackers has increased steadily since they were introduced to the market, and many watchful parents use the device to interact and monitor the whereabouts of their children at all times. However, while these devices might be popular it doesn’t necessarily mean they are completely safe.

What are the Risks of Child Trackers?

Child tracking devices pose a lot of advantages. They allow parents to monitor their children from far away, and help with enforcing boundaries. In some trackers which permit messages and voice calls, these parents are given an opportunity to communicate unobtrusively with their children.

Child trackers are a resourceful technological advancement. This does not mean, however, that child trackers are the perfect technological tool. Child tracking devices pose many potential risks to the children who wear them. Some of these risk factors include:

Hacking

The biggest concern and risk involved with child tracking devices is hacking. Hacking is when a third party gains personal data through an unauthorized method. In many child tracking devices, hacking is a possibility. This is due to the many security flaws present in some of these devices.

In some devices, hackers are able to pinpoint the exact location of the child. This is perfect for potential abductors and kidnappers. In devices where calls and voice interactions are enabled, hackers are also able to eavesdrop on the activities of the child. It has also been recorded that some expert hackers have the ability to interact with the child and even redirect the child’s real-time location for monitoring parents.

Children wearing tracking devices with GPS locating

Children wearing tracking devices. Source

Lack of Proper Security Mechanisms

Many child tracking devices lack proper security and safety mechanisms for their user interfaces. Some child tracking devices contain security flaws which put the child and parents who use the device at various forms of risk. Many of these devices fall very short of standard security procedures which keep both the child and parent’s sensitive information safe.

Child trackers such as Gator 2 and Xplora were found to have security loopholes. These security loopholes permit hackers to access the information of the users of these devices relatively easily. These devices are easily hijacked and pose very little security for their users.

3rd Party Access to Personal Information

Many child tracking devices could unwittingly allow 3rd party access to the sensitive data of their users. In a particular child tracker known as TicTocTrack allows access to other accounts through the registered phone number. Once logged into the application, a person could potentially be able to access the information of another account user by simply switching the phone number on the website’s backend. Once changed, the user has access to all the data available to the registered phone number. This information could range from the family home address to frequent locations and other extremely sensitive information.

The access to trackers information by a 3rd party user also allows the manipulation of this information. Sensitive addresses and locations can be tampered with. 3rd party users with no connection to the family can enlist themselves as parents in the device’s database.

A mixed bag

Child trackers are invaluable devices when used properly. They serve a myriad of purposes and they aid parents to keep an idea on where their children are, especially in sensitive situations.  Although these devices pose many benefits, it is important to realize that there are some risk factors. Child trackers can pose some safety risks, but also help ensure their safety. Parents looking to keep an eye on their children should make sure their choice of child safety device is informed so they can have the best chance of safely locating their child without the other risks.

Sources

 

Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.