Popular child-tracking apps contain privacy and security flaws
The popularity of parental control apps is growing rapidly as parents try to steer their children away from the harmfulness of the internet. These apps allow for a safe online environment for your children. You can control what they see online and track their activities. However, not all child tracking apps are as secure as we expect or should be. Cybernews security researchers have discovered that some of the most popular parental control apps have major privacy and security flaws that put parents and children at risk.
Child tracking apps spy on parents and children
Cybernews evaluated ten popular Android child tracking apps with over 85 million cumulative installs and found that the apps can spy on parents. Some of them even contain links to malicious sites. No app has received the highest privacy rating or adhered to the highest security standard.
According to the new report, only one app, which goes by the name Pingo by Findmykids, earned a Mobile Security Framework (MobSF) score of over 50. But its score of 53 isn’t quite up to scratch either. MobSF scores range from zero to 100, with a higher number indicating a more secure system. An application called Phone tracking by number got a score of only 25.
Interestingly, with over 50 million installs, it was the most installed app out of the ten tested during this research. Worse, it also received the lowest privacy rating, indicating “critical risk.” MobSF privacy ratings range from A to F, with A indicating the highest level of privacy. Seven of the apps tested received a B rating while two received a C rating.
The new report notes that the Phone tracking by number The app ranks 47th in the best free apps in the social category in the United States. Besides the poor implementation of privacy and security measures, it has many other flaws. It allows other apps on the device to access its information. This allows threat actors to know the location of a child that a parent is tracking.
This app is vulnerable to man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks, the researchers concluded. Family Finder – GPS Tracker & Find Your PhoneApp, KidsControl Family GPS Tracker, and FamiSafe: parental control app are also vulnerable to MITM attacks. The report notes that developers can change app names on the Google Play Store.
These apps also contain third party trackers and malicious links
These parental control apps also contain third party trackers as well as malicious links. All ten apps contain third-party trackers, allowing unauthorized access to parent and child data. All information, such as accounts, passwords, location and shared media, can be exposed to third parties.
Additionally, these apps also store hard-coded application programming interface (API) keys. According to the report, “API keys are used for authentication purposes, to allow applications to recognize individual users and vice versa. Storing API keys can lead to security issues if a malicious actor finds a way to access it.” The report says that some of the hard-coded API keys could also be responsible for protecting user data. Losing these keys to malicious actors could compromise sensitive information.
Finally, four of the applications analyzed contained malicious links. Although the apps are not necessarily infected with malware, the presence of these links is still worrying. They can lead users to websites that contain malware.
This discovery paints a chilling picture. The apps that parents hope to keep their kids safe online are opening backdoors to the darkness of the internet. This may allow unauthorized access to their information, compromising their security and privacy. A security researcher has suggested that apps from independent developers might not be the best solution for parental controls. These developers may lack robust software development programs. As such, they use third-party code from open-source libraries, which may have privacy and security flaws.
If you use one of the apps mentioned in this article to keep tabs on your kids, you might want to upgrade to a more secure app. Be sure to do proper research before downloading. You can search for reviews online as well as user reports.