Mozilla lists potentially unsecure gadgets in time for holidays

Rappler.com
Mozilla lists potentially unsecure gadgets in time for holidays
From consoles to Star Wars toys, Mozilla reviews the security level of 70 devices people might be thinking of giving as a holiday gift

MANILA, Philippines – Mozilla, the non-profit organization behind the Firefox browser, has reviewed a number of gadgets, toys and other connected devices to see if they’re secure or not – meaning whether they’re prone to being easily hacked because of a lack of security protocols or carry a murky privacy policy.

Privacy has become among the most crucial topics this year in tech, with the implementation of Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation, the Facebook breach, and the steady adoption of smart, connected devices from electrical sockets to teddy bears. 

In the list which Mozilla calls “Privacy Not Included,” the team reviewed a total of 70 devices including popular ones such as the Apple Watch, Sony’s PlayStation 4, the Nintendo Switch, the Fitbit Charge 3, the iPad, and the Amazon Echo Dot  – all of which made the cut, and given Mozilla’s approval denoted by a checkmark.

On the other end of the spectrum are devices that are deemed to be less trustworthy by Mozilla’s metrics including the Amazon Kindle, specific models of Jabra and Bose earphones and headphones, the Star Wars BB-8 robot toy, Google’s Chromecast and drones from popular makers DJI and Parrot, as well as a baby monitor. 

The devices were rated according to Mozilla’s “Minimum Security Standards” which include five basic things:

  • The product must use encryption
  • The company must provide automatic security updates
  • If a product uses a password, it must require a strong password
  • The company must have a way to manage security vulnerabilities found in their products
  • The company must have an accessible privacy policy. 

The guide isn’t exhaustive as there are thousands of gadgets out there that can become a point-of-entry for hackers. So if you’re a consumer, one thing you can do when buying a connected device or any internet-of-things (IOT) device, is to weigh a device according to those five factors that Mozilla has put forth. It’s certainly a start, and far safer than blindly picking up that cool, cheap connected toy. 

Mozilla also hopes to create awareness that people do care about device-based privacy and security, and that these security elements should be demanded from device makers. “We hope you use and enjoy this guide to help you think about, shop for, and buy products that show they value privacy and security. We as consumers need to demand that value from the people who build our products. It’s how we’ll start to make the internet, and our lives, a bit safer in this digital world,” said Mozilla in the list’s About page

The program was headed by Janice Tsai, a privacy researcher at Mozilla, and Rebecca Ricks, a former Mozilla Fellow, in collaborate with researchers working on the Usable Privacy Policy project at Carnegie Mellon University. – Rappler.com

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