Amazon Ring fixed a security vulnerability in its Ring doorbell last year that could have potentially allowed hackers access to homeowners’ networks through Wi-Fi passwords. In December 2019, Ring faced more security issues when a family from Tennessee claimed that a man hacked into their Amazon Ring security camera. The hacker reportedly used it to talk to an 8-year-old girl in her bedroom. Turns out the whole thing may not have been hacking, but just poor password use by the owner.
When Digital Trends reached out to Ring about the most recent incident, a representative said this: “Customer trust is important to us, and we take the security of our devices seriously. Our security team has investigated this incident and we have no evidence of an unauthorized intrusion or compromise of Ring’s systems or network.
“Recently, we were made aware of an incident where malicious actors obtained some Ring users’ account credentials (e.g., username and password) from a separate, external, non-Ring service and reused them to log in to some Ring accounts. Unfortunately, when the same username and password is reused on multiple services, it’s possible for bad actors to gain access to many accounts. Upon learning of the incident, we took appropriate actions to promptly block bad actors from known affected Ring accounts and affected users have been contacted.”
So how can you protect your Ring smart cameras? There’s no way to know if your device has been hacked as the camera doesn’t trigger an alert warning you of suspicious activity. Consequently, the only real way to know if you’ve been hacked is to notice the light is on while you’re not using it. Fortunately, it not hard to improve your security. Here are some tips.
Enable two-factor authentication
In the case of the 8-year-old girl, the mom admitted that she didn’t enable two-factor authentication. This is a major step in keeping your Ring products safe. To set it up, go to your Ring app and tap the three-lined icon at the upper-left corner of your screen to open the menu. Then tap Account and Two-factor Authorization, enter your password, and type in your cell number where you want the two-factor authorization code sent. Next, enter the six-digit code that was texted to your phone into the app and then tap Continue to finish.
Now you have an extra layer of security between you and a hacker. When someone attempts to use your account on a new device, a code will be sent to your phone that needs entering into the app on the new device. If the hacker doesn’t have your phone, they won’t be able to gain access to your account without this code.
Treat your passwords right
Ring said the hacker was able to gain access to the Ring camera’s account because the owners reused their passwords from other platforms. So, make sure you use a unique password for your account. Also, make sure you create passwords that are hard to crack, using a mix of numbers, upper- and lower-case letters, and symbols like exclamation points. Try using phrases instead of just one word to make the password extra strong, too. If you hate coming up with passwords, use a password generator. You should also update it regularly to help prevent brute force attacks. To avoid forgetting your passwords, use a password vault. Here’s our list for the best password managers.
Don’t share your login information
There may be times when others need access to your Ring equipment. There’s a nifty way to allow this without sharing your login information and jeopardizing your security. Just add them as a shared user on the account. This gives the person, like your teen or roommate, access to view videos, use the two-way talk feature, and save videos, but they won’t have the master account’s login information.
To add a shared user, open the app and choose your device. Then go to Settings and tap on Shared Users and Add User. Next, enter the email address of the person you want to make a shared user. Choose the devices you want to share with the new user and then tap Send Invite. Once the person accepts the invite, the process is complete. They will be able to access the devices through their own app and login credentials. Make sure they’re using strong passwords and two-factor authentication, too, though.
Avoid sharing videos on social networks
It might be tempting to share videos on your social media to warn neighbors of suspicious characters or post funny antics you’ve witnessed, thinking you’re doing a helpful thing. But, doing so makes hackers’ lives easier by providing them with an extra outlet to gain insight into your login credentials and personal details. You should also delete old footage to prevent a backlog of footage that makes you more susceptible to getting hacked.
Purchase a firewall and antivirus service
If this whole topic sounds a little overwhelming, one of the best ways for a safer, easier approach to secure your Ring camera is to rely on a firewall and antivirus service to put in the work for you. This will help to prevent hackers from retrieving your username and password to gain access to your Ring camera.
Keep the camera’s software up to date
Occasionally, your Ring camera will require a software update to enhance the alarm system’s performance. Most importantly, the updates help to keep hackers at bay, and the process is simple and quick. To update your device, you’ll need to disarm the system, and depending on the number of Ring equipment you have in your home, the process could take several days up to a few weeks.
If you don’t regularly update your Ring camera, the system is more inviting for hackers, putting you and your family at risk. Log in to the app to see if there are any updates available. If so, there will be a red dot next to the device that’s ready for a system update. Before you start the update, your device should have full power, with your keypad and range extenders plugged in. Only system owners are able to trigger the software update, so if you’re a shared owner, you might need to ask the owner to acquire access.