A popular smartwatch designed exclusively for children contains an undocumented backdoor that makes it possible for someone to remotely capture camera snapshots, wiretap voice calls, and track locations in real time, a researcher said.
The X4 smartwatch is marketed by Xplora, a Norway-based seller of children’s watches. The device, which sells for about $200, runs on Android and offers a range of capabilities, including the ability to make and receive voice calls to parent-approved numbers and to send an SOS broadcast that alerts emergency contacts to the location of the watch. A separate app that runs on the smartphones of parents allows them to control how the watches are used and receive warnings when a child has strayed beyond a present geographic boundary.
But that’s not all
It turns out that the X4 contains something else: a backdoor that went undiscovered until some impressive digital sleuthing. The backdoor is activated by sending an encrypted text message. Harrison Sand and Erlend Leiknes, researchers at Norwegian security company Mnemonic, said that commands exist for surreptitiously reporting the watch’s real-time location, taking a snapshot and sending it to an Xplora server, and making a phone call that transmits all sounds within earshot.