Pet and animal-related apps - such as GPS trackers, cameras and automatic feeders - are creating cybersecurity risks to their owners, new research has found.
Computer scientists at Newcastle University and Royal Holloway, University of London, have exposed multiple security and privacy issues by evaluating 40 popular Android apps for pets and other companion animals.
Password vulnerability was one of the areas exposed by the team, who identified three apps that allowed anyone to see the internet traffic of someone using it - including their login information.
Other concerns included location data and the use of trackers.
Newcastle PhD student and lead author of the study, Scott Harper, said: "Pet tech such as smart collars and GPS trackers for your cat or dog, is a rapidly growing industry and it brings with it new security, privacy, and safety risks to the pet owners.
"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 cybersecurity.
"We would urge anyone using these apps to take the time to ensure they are using a unique password, check the settings and ensure that they consider how much data they are sharing or willing to share."
Co-author, Dr Maryam Mehrnezhad, from the Department of Information Security at Royal Holloway, University of London, added: "We are using modern technologies to improve several aspects of our lives.
"However, some of these (often) cheap technologies come at the price of our privacy, security, and safety.
"Animal technologies can create complex risks and harms that are not easy to recognise and address.
"In this interdisciplinary project, we are working on solutions to mitigate such risks an allow the animal owners to use such technologies without risk or fear."
The researchers urge those who are using pet tech, to ensure they are using a unique password only for that app, check the settings and consider what data they are sharing.
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