We live in a society where privacy and security are being sought after by homeowners. Smart home security systems are becoming increasingly prevalent in the market to address the security needs of many individuals. The real question is, how do we keep smart home “security” devices like the Ring Video Doorbell free from hacking?
Like most cyber technology, the Ring Video Doorbell is vulnerable to hacking, putting your privacy at risk. Fortunately, you can take some helpful preventative measures to prevent the unauthorized use of your device.
The Ring Video Doorbell is not alone in its vulnerability to hacking. With many smart technology devices, it is often up to the user to ensure that their security is managed properly (updating passwords, not sharing login information, etc.). With this in mind, this article seeks to examine the security measures implemented by the Ring Video Doorbell and ways to prevent unauthorized use.
Ring Video Doorbell: A Quick Look
The Ring Video Doorbell is designed to keep homeowners secure and informed of any potential intrusions. It can also be used to verify if or when a package is delivered. You even have the option of remotely accessing the built-in camera, should you have a friend or family member visit while you’re away. With customizable motion zones, voice command, and numerous other features, the Ring Video Doorbell is a promising choice for security monitoring.
Features and Specifications
With a competitive home security market, the Ring Video Doorbell stands out with its myriad of features. In addition to sending real-time notifications, the device also offers a live view feature and crime and safety alerts exclusive to your neighborhood. Additionally, Ring offers an optional monthly subscription service for video recording functionalities.
- 1080p HD Video and Two-Way Talk (With Night vision): Ring implements HD quality video with improved sensors and image contrast settings, allowing users to capture extra detail in their footage. With the addition of night vision, you can maintain a consistent level of security, even when it’s dark out.
- Advanced Motion Detection: This technology can detect motion when an object is within range of the Video Doorbell. Additionally, there is a customizable detection setting, People Only Mode, which differentiates between objects, animals, and people. With this, the Ring Doorbell will send less “false” alarm notifications from things like passing cars and animals.
- Built-in Rechargeable Battery: With the built-in rechargeable battery, the Ring Video Doorbell can last months between charges (with regular use). Additionally, the battery can be charged using a micro-USB cable (included with the device), allowing you to charge it from power sources like a computer or laptop.
- Compatible with Alexa Enabled Devices: The Video Doorbells are seamlessly integrated into Amazon’s smart home technology ecosystem. You can operate the doorbell hands-free using video and voice-activated Alexa-enabled devices like the Echo Dot and Echo Show (They even offer limited compatibility with Google’s “Home” devices.).
Given the Ring Video Doorbell’s extensive features and competitive specifications, let’s look at what type of security the device can provide. Having a better idea of the layers of security implemented by Ring will promote a better understanding of how your information is used.
Ring Video Doorbell Security Features
Ring takes extra steps to ensure that your data is being communicated as securely as possible. The Video Doorbell utilizes advanced layers of encryption and effort to keep your information safe from unauthorized intrusions. Below is a glance at some of the more prominent security features offered by Ring.
|Security Features||Ring Video Doorbell|
|Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)||Yes|
|Transport Layer Security (TLS)||Yes|
|Secure Real-Time Protocol (SRTP)||Yes|
|End to End Encryption (E2EE)||n/a|
Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)
The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), as its name implies, is the most accepted form of global encryption standards.
It is specifically designed to encrypt sensitive data and is a fundamental aspect of cybersecurity. By implementing three levels of encryption (128, 192, and 256 bit) with the AES, Ring makes it virtually impossible to decrypt digitally communicated data.
Transport Layer Security (TLS)
TLS is a security protocol meant to increase privacy and data security for digital communication (such as the internet). TLS security can help protect web applications from data breaches and uses “Encryption, Authentication, and Integrity” to verify the security of communicated data.
Coming Soon: End to End Encryption (E2EE)
Though not currently available, Ring has announced they will be utilizing End to End Encryption on their devices to add an extra layer of security.
E2EE is one of the most secure methods of encryption available. It is designed so that only the intended recipient of sensitive communication can decrypt the data, ensuring that your information is private.
With this in mind, it is vital to keep your Video Doorbell updated with the latest available firmware to keep your device protected with the latest security technology available. Fortunately, given Amazon’s resources, the firmware of their devices is often updated.
However, even with multiple security and advanced encryption layers, the Ring Video Doorbell is still susceptible to hacking and unauthorized use. Next, we will examine how the device can be hacked and preventive measures you can take to ensure your information is protected.
Can the Ring Video Doorbell Be Hacked?
The Ring Video Doorbell, like most cybertechnology, is vulnerable to varying degrees of hacking. Users have reported unauthorized individuals hacking into their devices and directly interacting with the users’ video doorbell (access video feed, use two-way audio, etc.). Given this information, you may be wondering: How is the Ring Video Doorbell hacked?
A common mistake made by many Ring Video Doorbell users is assuming that the Ring Video Doorbell functions exclusively as a “security camera.” In reality, it is closer to a small computer capable of transmitting sensitive data to users in various scenarios across different interfaces.
One of the most notable and significant security vulnerabilities with the device occurs during its initial setup. When configuring your device with your local network (Wi-Fi in this scenario), the associated Ring app sends the wireless network connection to Amazon cloud servers.
The device creates an access point without a password, which is sent using HTTP (as opposed to HTTPS). According to zdnet, “The application and the device communicate over HTTP, not over HTTPS, as the best security practices warrant.” Using HTTP potentially allows hackers to access the information being communicated, thus jeopardizing your device’s security.
Like many devices, the Ring Video Doorbell is also susceptible to a malicious practice called “Credential Stuffing.”
This practice involves the unauthorized user, or hacker, taking usernames and passwords from data breaches on different platforms, and using the information to hack into another device or account.
Considering many people use the same password and username for multiple accounts, the threat of credential stuffing is particularly relevant. It is worth noting that credential stuffing is a practice used for many scenarios and is not a vulnerability exclusive to Ring’s Video Doorbell. Additionally, Ring has indicated that users’ account information (if hacked) is obtained from external services, not from Amazon servers.
Though the Ring Video Doorbell is susceptible to hacking, fortunately, there are ways in which users can seek to prevent malicious practices and unauthorized use of their devices.
How to Protect Your Ring Video Doorbell from Hacking
To keep your Ring Video Doorbell consistently secure from authorized users, Ring recommends practicing “security hygiene,” which involves staying up to date on your passwords, enabling extra levels of verification, as well as several other methods. Given that most data breaches result from accessing login credentials, it is crucial to manage your accounts.
Updating your passwords may seem like a rudimentary practice to some, but many individuals use the same passwords for all their accounts and rarely take the time to update them.
Given that many hackers practice “credential stuffing” to obtain account information from data breaches, it is undeniably essential to keep your passwords updated and secure. If you’re looking for more information regarding creating a strong and secure password, Avast has a great article here. Additionally, you can opt to use a secure password generating service to ensure that your account is as safe as possible.
Add a Shared User
It is highly recommended that users refrain from sharing their login information, even with friends and family. The more your information is shared, the higher the probability of it being obtained through illicit means.
Fortunately, the Ring app (and Video Doorbell) can add a “Shared User” on your account should you want to allow access to your family or close friends.
With this feature, you can ensure that your account information is secure while still allowing your family and friends to access the device should the need arise. You can even create a guest network on your Wi-Fi, allowing “Shared Users” to circumvent the need for your private login information.
In addition to making sure your passwords are up to date, and your account information isn’t being shared, Ring also provides an extra level of security authentication: two-step verification. Though not a feature enabled by default, Ring provides the option for two-step verification when logging into their servers.
With this feature enabled, users will receive a code through text message when either you or someone else attempts to log in to the associated Ring account. In theory, this feature is designed to add an extra layer of security should your password be compromised.
Using Two-Step Verification
Two-Step Verification can be enabled directly from the Ring app. Every time you log into your Ring account, you will receive a “one-time” password sent to your associated email address. You will then be prompted to enter the six-digit key to log in successfully. The code must be entered into your app within 10 minutes, at which time the code will expire (requiring you to request a new one).
Note: If you have Shared Users on your account, they can also access two-step verification where the same process still applies.
Monitor and Delete Old Footage
Ring also suggests deleting and managing your old video footage in the associated mobile application. Theoretically, with more footage available, hackers would have more information to access, thus creating a potential security risk and an increased likelihood of vulnerability.
Additionally, if you see footage that seems unfamiliar, it may indicate that your device has been compromised.
Do Not Share Footage
In addition to deleting your no longer used footage, it is recommended that you do not share your Ring Video Doorbell footage with anyone, including on social media or even Amazon’s Neighbor social network.
Having your footage readily accessible, even on a secure platform, can significantly increase the security risk imposed on your devices. Make sure to keep all your sensitive data not only safe but private as well.
Firewall and Antivirus
If you’re looking for a more “hands-off” approach to managing the security of your devices, it may be worthwhile to invest in a well-established firewall or antivirus service.
As we previously discussed, the Ring app is vulnerable to hacking through your network. Having a reliable antivirus or firewall service will help protect your system from any unauthorized intrusions, which would affect your device’s security and privacy.
Additionally, you must keep your device up to date with the latest software. Amazon is continuously updating the software for their devices, including additional layers of security (like the previously mentioned E2EE)
Now that we’ve established some of the preventative measures you can take to ensure that your devices are safe and secure, let’s take a closer look at how to tell if your Ring Video Doorbell is hacked and what to do.
How Can I Tell if My Device is Compromised?
Even with additional security, Ring devices are susceptible to hacking. There are some discreet ways that you can confirm whether your device has been compromised, primarily the status light.
The LED ring on the doorbell will display a solid blue light when the speaker has been enabled. If you aren’t actively using the device, this could be an indicator that an unauthorized user has access.
If you’re like me, it may not be practical to consistently monitor the device’s LED status indicator to verify if an unauthorized party is using it. Fortunately, there is a well-known and secure site that seeks to inform users of potential data breaches.
Have I Been Pwned
Despite its unique name, Have I Been Pwned is an established website designed to inform users if their information has been used as a part of a data breach. You simply enter your email address, and the platform will display if and where your email address has been obtained. This is beneficial for two reasons:
- This enables users to verify if and where their email addresses have been used without their consent or knowledge. It is important to note that a “breach” is defined as a scenario in which potentially sensitive data has been exposed at a public level. Given the broad definition, there are many “false” alarms. However, the ability to sort through what is and isn’t a legitimate breach of privacy is fundamental in maintaining your cybersecurity.
- The website also provides detailed information regarding each potential breach, allowing users to obtain an in-depth look into how their data was used. The platform even describes some of the methods by which your data may have been breached. This is essential when taking steps to prevent security issues in the future.
What to Do if Your Device Is Hacked
If you think your device may have been the victim of a cyberattack, there are some steps you can take to help resolve the issues, as well as ensure that it does not happen again.
Change Login Information
If you’ve confirmed that your information has been compromised in some way, regardless of the severity, you must update your login information. One of the easiest methods for hackers to obtain your data is by stealing login information.
It is recommended that you change your passwords every month and refrain from using universal login information across all your accounts.
If changing your password consistently seems like an unnecessary step, you can also opt for all in one password managing software, such as 1password.com. With this software, you can manage and consolidate all your passwords and login information, and they are protected by a “Master Password” that only the user knows.
Privacy and security are paramount in our digital age of cybertechnology and smart home devices. Like almost all devices that communicate through a network, the Ring Video Doorbell is vulnerable to hacking and even has some documented cases of cyberattacks occurring.
Though Ring has assured users that the data breaches were not a result of the Ring infrastructure (Amazon servers, etc.), it is still essential to understand how it occurs and what steps can be taken to prevent unauthorized use moving forward.
Curious about how secure your other Ring devices are? Check out this article!