By Kate Gibson MoneyWatch November 14, 2018, 3:50 PM Holiday gifts: Beware of those that can spy on you
When it comes to high-tech toys and gadgets as gifts, consumers concerned about privacy should be wary. Some products can be hacked and used to track the owner's whereabouts, or take private videos or images and share them online.
That led researchers at Mozilla, the open-source software development group behind the Firefox browser, to answer this question: What could go wrong when a connected product comes without encryption, needs to use a password or doesn't delete stored data? To find out, they took a look at 70 products that could make for gifts — and security risks — this holiday season.
The remaining 37 products did not meet Mozilla's security bar, or the results on them were inconclusive.
Here's the rundown of some of products deemed unworthy of Mozilla's minimum standards to address privacy concerns:
The Amazon Kindle, which retails from $79.99 to $249.99, can't spy on you because it doesn't have a camera, microphone or tracking device. But because it doesn't require you to change the default setting of no password, someone could easily swipe the reading device and buy the complete set of Harry Potter, sending you the bill.
Shown to be "easily hackable," the Philips Hue Smart Light Kit sells for $99.99 to $199.99. According to Mozilla, Philips pushes the burden for security onto the consumer. "Someone could pretty easily know when you are sleeping and when you are awake," according to the guide.
This petcam from Wagz retails for $169.99 and includes an app that shares all your furry friend's activities to social media. What could go wrong? "Bad people could hack in, spy on you like you spy on your dog, then post creepy pics to your social media," according to the guidebook.
Made by zerotech, this $169 drone is among the cheapest and smallest — it'll fit into many pockets. Now for the bad news:
Of six toys marketed to children that Mozilla tested, it was able to compromise the security of five.
Devices meant to protect your home and family can work both ways, it seems.
The latest baby monitor hacking incident involves a $34 FREDI wireless baby camera monitor, used to spy on a South Carolina mother and baby earlier this year.