Tech to avoid while last-minute holiday shopping

The holidays are a time to over-indulge, buy gifts, and visit loved ones. For those who are security conscious, want to protect their children from cyber criminals, or want to avoid data extortion, there are some gifts you should definitely avoid.

In 2023, we witnessed an attack on DNA genetic testing company 23andMe and Ring sharing data with US police without user permission. There have been many issues with AI toys, smartwatches for kids, and many other devices.


I know what you’re thinking, but we’re not talking about any ordinary doorbell. We’re talking about video doorbells that surveil your streets and homes.

Cybernews reported that Ring shared data with US police several times without the user’s permission in 2023.

Ring expressed that this action was in ‘good faith’ and that imminent danger of death or severe injury was the motivation behind sharing this information.

Video doorbells use cameras and microphones to record interactions, which are then sent to the cloud, allowing law enforcement to access the files.

Although Ring is committed to avoiding sharing customer information with law enforcement without consent or warrant, it may be advisable to avoid this tech if you don’t want your interactions shared.

DNA testing kits

With the October hack on famous DNA genetic testing company 23andMe, avoiding these services is best, as your genetic data could be threatened.

The threat actor on the crime marketplace BreachForums claimed data from seven million users.

This file contained links to a profile list of half of the members of 23andMe while revealing personal information such as origin estimation, phenotype, and other health-related information.

Medical data is among the most profitable, as health records could be worth up to $1000 on the dark web. Once you have sent off your precious data, there is no way to revoke this action.

Furthermore, it may not just be your data that you’re compromising. As you share your genetic makeup with your family members, you could be putting others at risk.

AI gadgets for kids

As artificial intelligence has increased in popularity in 2023, some toys, dolls, and devices could threaten your child’s safety.

AI-powered toys could compromise your kids’ privacy, with some toys requiring voice recordings to interact with the device.

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) reminds parents that “it’s important to know that for some of these products, the voice recordings are shared with other companies, and the toys’ terms and conditions may allow for the child’s conversations to be used as the basis for targeted advertising.”

It’s not just AI dolls that threaten your children; the DPC also warns about smartwatches that track your child’s movements and enable you to speak with them remotely.

The DPC suggests that communication functions lack security and could easily be infiltrated by adversaries. Individuals could eavesdrop on conversations between you and your child or directly communicate with your children.

“The location function on these watches can also be manipulated by hackers to make the child appear somewhere else, and the SOS function can be tricked to use a non-trusted phone number,” the DPC states.

Devices hiding dangerous malware

Cheap or ‘knock-off’ devices may be hiding a dangerous secret. This year, we witnessed researcher Alexis Hancock’s suspicions become a reality when his daughter was gifted a Dragon Touch KidzPad Y88X.

The device came pre-loaded with software considered malware and other unwanted programs with a turbulent history.

Hancock’s report showed that malware, pre-installed riskware, and an obsolete parent control app were present on the device.

To avoid nasty security bugs or leaked personal information, it’s best to avoid buying unreliable devices.

More from Cybernews:

Out with the old: the tech turkeys we kept using in 2023

Decentralized services heat up competition in the VPN market

China issues new rules and bans to curb gaming spend

Abuse material found in openly accessible data set

Teen GTA 6 hacker sentenced to live in mental hospital indefinitely

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