A year ago, the Norwegian Consumer Council published an excellent security analysis of children’s GPS-connected smart watches. The security was terrible. Not only could parents track the children, anyone else could also track the children.
A recent analysis checked if anything had improved after that torrent of bad press. Short answer: no.
Guess what: a train wreck. Anyone could access the entire database, including real time child location, name, parents details etc. Not just Gator watches either — the same back end covered multiple brands and tens of thousands of watches
The Gator web backend was passing the user level as a parameter. Changing that value to another number gave super admin access throughout the platform. The system failed to validate that the user had the appropriate permission to take admin control!
This means that an attacker could get full access to all account information and all watch information. They could view any user of the system and any device on the system, including its location. They could manipulate everything and even change users’ emails/passwords to lock them out of their watch.
In fairness, upon our reporting of the vulnerability to them, Gator got it fixed in 48 hours.
This is a lesson in the limits of naming and shaming: publishing vulnerabilities in an effort to get companies to improve their security. If a company is specifically named, it is likely to improve the specific vulnerability described. But that is unlikely to translate into improved security practices in the future. If an industry, or product category, is named generally, nothing is likely to happen. This is one of the reasons I am a proponent of regulation.