South Korea Pulls Out Child-Monitoring App

Smart Sheriff, the most widely used child-monitoring app, has been pulled out of app stores. The pull out causes complications in South Korea's law of equipping smartphones, which will be sold to individuals aged below eighteen years old to be equipped with a child surveillance app. Smart Sheriff has been quietly pulled out of the apps market.

According to a report from New Zealand Herald, the pull out has been done after authorities and security watchdogs raised concerns about the app. Smart Sheriff is said to potentially provide hackers with backdoor access to young users' smartphone. This puts about 380,000 young smartphone owners at risk of being victimized by hackers.

Korea Communications Commision's senior official, Moon Hyun-Seok, said that the app has officially been made unavailable in Google Play Store on Oct. 31, Saturday. Current users have also been asked to switch to other apps. MOIBA, an associate of South Korean mobile makers, and the maker of the Smart Sheriff app have not commented regarding the group's discontinued program. 

KCC has initially decided to remove the app in December this year, according to a report from Yahoo News. But since similar apps that raise privacy concerns have been readily available in an alarmingly fast rate, the commissioner discontinued the app two months earlier than previously decided. Independent researcher Collin Anderson, who works with Citizen Lab and Cure53, said that the pull out of Smart Sheriff was "long overdue." Cure53 described the app's security as "catastrophic." 

MOIBA said that the app's vulnerabilities have already been fixed, weeks before it has been pulled out of the market. Smart Sheriff functions like a mobile baby sitter, filtering web content by blocking inappropriate sites and flagging words, which are objectionable for children. It also tells parents how much time the young users have spent on the internet. 

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