The Daily Telegraph

Pet-tracking apps secretly snooping on owners

- By Sarah Knapton Science editor

Pet-tracking apps that help locate lost animals are also monitoring their owners, researcher­s have warned.

In recent years, a glut of tech companies have launched systems for keeping a virtual eye on pets, such as smart collars, automatic feeders, or wearable cameras. But computer scientists at Newcastle University and Royal Holloway, University of London, evaluated 40 apps and discovered that they create cyber-security risks for their owners.

Several of the apps recorded the login details and location of owners without encryption.

All but four of the applicatio­ns were found to feature some form of tracking software that was gathering informatio­n on the owner and the majority had not sought consent from the user.

Scott Harper, a doctoral student at Newcastle University’s School of Computing and the lead author of the study, said: “While owners might use these apps for peace of mind about the health of their dog or where their cat is, they may not be happy to find out about the risks the apps hold for their own cyber security.”

The findings were presented at the Institute of Electrical and Electronic­s Engineers (IEEE) european symposium on security and privacy workshops conference.

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