The FREDI baby monitor has been ranked creepiest connected home gadget on offer this festive season in a survey by Mozilla.
According to Mozilla, the babycam uses a default password of “123” that users aren’t forced to change, it doesn’t use encryption and has a history of being hacked – earning it a “super creepy” tag from the foundation.
Researchers at Mozilla probed 70 connected toys, games, smartphone kit and other gadgets for its second annual Privacy Not Included test, ahead of Black Friday and the Christmas gift-buying rush.
They asked five questions, including whether the device can spy on its owners, and how it is controlled or secured – concerns that are regularly raised about kids’ toys that fail to protect the data they slurp on their owners.
Mozilla also assessed devices against a set of minimum security requirements, such as use of encryption and strong passwords if there is a point of contact for reporting a vulnerability.
The FREDI monitor was the only device ranked “super creepy” – researchers previously claimed a miscreant can remotely connect to it and use its built in camera without authentication.
Many more gadgets probed by Mozilla were branded “very creepy” – which doesn’t necessarily mean they have bad security practices, since it also assesses the level of insight the device has into your life.
For instance, “very creepy” devices that meet the minimum security standards include Amazon devices Echo and Cloud Cam, and Google Home.
Broadly, these are classed as creepy because of the amount they “spy” on users, through cameras, microphones and location tracking. Mozilla also noted Amazon Echos don’t delete the data stored on users.
Other “very creepy” but security-standard-meeting devices include the Furbo Dog Camera, Petcube Play and Petchatz HD. The sheer number of these kinds of devices on trial demonstrates just how much people love their pets.
“Somewhat creepy” pet surveillance options, according to Mozilla, are the Petzi treat cam and PetNet Smart Feeder, which we’ve covered before here.
Ranking is also given to a variety of watches and wearables, such as the Apple watch, Garmin Vivosport and the FitBit Charge 3.
On the plus side, a couple of entirely necessary devices that absolutely need to be connected to the internet, or controlled through your phone manage to scrape through as just “a little creepy”.
Take the connected personalised coffee maker (what’s wrong with a Teasmaid?) and a Wi-Fi and bluetooth-connected sous vide machine that lets you cook from another continent (after you’ve vacuum-packed your food, put it in a pot with water and stuck a cooking-stick in it).
But perhaps the most bizarre connected device – which is ranked “very creepy” – is the Hidrate Spark 2.0 Water Bottle. Yes, you read that right. It’s a water bottle that pairs with an app on your phone and syncs with your fitness tracker to remind you to drink water. When you aren’t drinking enough, it glows. Which is fine. ®
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