Hack highlights risks of spyware on children’s devices

Thousands of photos and videos of children and their online activities have been exposed in breach of a major vendor of parental monitoring software for children.

What happened

Family Orbit, a popular form of spyware sold to parents had an unsecured cloud server which has rendered the firm and the data vulnerable to a hack.

But in this case, it was found by an ethical hacker who reported it back to the company. They found 281 GB worth of highly sensitive information affecting children potentially around the world that was not properly secured. Family Orbit representative claims the organization has taken precautions to fix all vulnerabilities. They are unaware if the content was accessed by malicious actors.

Risks of spyware products

The is the 8th company in the past two years that has sold spyware for a variety of activities, parents tracking children or spouses they suspect are cheating for example, that has been breached and had the data leaked all over the internet.

If you put spyware on someone’s phone, you never know how that tool could get used.

Steps to take

If you are a parent who has used this software, the first step is to checking with the Family Orbit customer support team to find out if your data was affected.

As David mentions in the audio clip, he doesn’t advocate for the use of spyware, where you’re tracking location, recording keystrokes, keeping images. There’s a significant risk that parents/spouses are just opening up people around the world potentially getting information about your child/partner and manipulating it.

If you’re worried about your kids, Disney’s Circle is a great tool to use inside your house.

Why Children are targeted

Cybercriminals are particularly interested in stealing the personal information of children.

That’s because they can completely hijack a child’s credit history before they or their parents even know to check it.

Often times it’s their 18th birthday before individuals start trying to establish credit. Then they find out they actually own a variety of property or loans that are in default. It’s becoming a growing problem in the United States.

In the United States, parents are able to put credit freezes so no credit can be put on their name until they turn of age. Legislation recently passed in the US to make this a free option and parents there are encouraged to do so for their children.

Risks of ‘Smart’ IoT Toys

But spyware isn’t the only privacy concern for parents these days when it comes to technology.

Connected toys - so called Smart or Internet of Things (IoT) are a “smoking disaster” David said in the interview with Global News radio.

There are no government regulation in Canada around these types of devices. There are numerous examples of toy manufacturers having breaches with these. There’s all kinds of ways these devices collect information about the children.

Even the regulations that are coming into effect in Canada in November are a fraction of the fines being issued in other countries. For any example, you’re only fined if you fail to report a breach and the fine is a maximum of $100,000. In Europe, the fine could be as high as $30 million CAD.

As parents, do your homework, think carefully and read those terms of service.

You’ll be surprised how much data these companies collect about your kids and how little they owe you to protect it.