Imagine someone constantly ringing your doorbell in the small hours of the night or worse, a hacker gaining full control of your home Wi-Fi. This can be anyone's worst nightmare—one that many Ring users have been haunted by in the past.
So how does a Ring doorbell get hacked? What are the implications of a hacked doorbell? And are there ways to protect ourselves and our properties?
How Does a Ring Get Hacked?
Ring had its share of security hiccups over the years even though its popularity spiked when Amazon officially purchased it in February 2018. While the majority of the issues have been resolved, most Ring users are now aware that their doorbells can indeed be hacked and are finding ways to stay vigilant.
There are two common ways by which a Ring doorbell gets hacked in the first place.
Weak passwords: The weaker a password is, the easier it is for a hacker to break it and gain access to your device and network. Ring doorbells with weak default passwords such as “123456” or “000000” are the first to fall victim to hackers.
All it takes is password spamming software for a hacker to access your password.
No encryption: The data that travels between your Ring device and its application may not be encrypted, making it vulnerable to threat actors. The biggest security flaw happens during the initial set-up when configuring the Ring doorbell with your local Wi-Fi network.
Since the Ring doorbell and the application communicate over HTTP instead of HTTPS, it potentially allows the hackers to intercept the information, thus putting your device at risk.
Risks and Security Issues With Ring Doorbells
Many Ring users have reported incidents of unauthorized users hacking into their devices and taking full control of their doorbells.
Here are some security vulnerabilities and potential risk factors that you can face if your Ring doorbell gets hacked.
Credential stuffing is a malicious practice whereby unauthorized users can gather usernames and passwords from data breaches on different platforms and use that information to hack into another device or account.
Unfortunately, the Ring doorbell is also susceptible to this practice, and the threat is elevated because many people use the same password and username for multiple accounts.
Exploiting Your Home Network
A hacked Ring doorbell can be a pathway to your entire network. Anytime your doorbell gets hacked, all the connected devices on your network such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets are at risk of being exploited as well.
A hacker who has taken over your doorbell can ring it at all hours of the night and increase and decrease the volume as they please. Besides being annoying, it can be quite terrifying for children and elderly people.
But even more concerning is the idea that hackers can also take control of your device's recordings and know when the house is empty for potential robberies.
An army of slave devices that have been hacked is known as botnets. Hackers usually use the collective power of these botnets to attack websites, servers, and organizations. Ring doorbells with weak security are a prime target for such botnet recruiters.
How to Protect Your Doorbell From Hackers
Good security hygiene can keep your Ring doorbell safe from hackers. Here are some tips to keep your Ring doorbell safe and secure from outside attacks.
Though a seemingly simple practice, most people rarely update their passwords. What’s worse, they may use the same passwords for all their accounts.
Since most hackers use credential stuffing to hack passwords and account information, to say passwords should be updated regularly would be an understatement.
It is essential to switch passwords regularly and use separate ones for all accounts. This way, even if your Ring gets hacked, at least the problem is isolated.
You can also opt for secure password-generating services to ensure your passwords are always up to date and secure.
Enable Two-Step Verification
Two-step verification adds an extra layer of authentication to ensure your account information is not shared in the event that your password is compromised.
Ring does come with a two-step verification feature—that most users are not aware of as it is not enabled by default. This feature can be enabled directly from the Ring app.
Once enabled, every time you log into your Ring account, a one-time password will be sent to your associated email address. You will then be prompted to enter the six-digit key to log in successfully. Keep in mind that the code must be entered within 10 minutes, after which it will expire (requiring you to request a new one).
Add a Shared User
Do you want your friends and family to access your Ring in case of emergencies? As a rule of thumb, you should refrain from sharing login information with anyone.
Fortunately, the Ring app and Video Doorbell come with a flexible feature for adding a “Shared User” to your account. This way you can still provide Ring access to others while keeping your account information secure.
Monitor and Delete Old Footage
It’s always best to delete your old video footage from your Ring app. With more footage available, potential hackers would have more information to access and pose a security risk.
Also, if you see any footage that seems unfamiliar, it's a good indication that your Ring has been compromised.
Do Not Share Footage
Along with deleting old footage, you should also refrain from sharing your Ring Video Doorbell footage with anyone. This includes any social media platform and even Amazon Sidewalk.
Even highly secure platforms can increase the likelihood of a security breach on your devices, so it's important to keep your sensitive data safe as well as private.
Invest in an Antivirus Solution
Having a robust and reliable antivirus or firewall solution to protect your Ring device from unauthorized intrusions is a must, even if you are taking all other precautions.
You should also keep your device updated with the latest software to take advantage of new security updates and patches as Amazon is continuously updating their devices.
The Importance of Privacy With Smart Technology
The recent advances in information technology have paralyzed our privacy and opened doors for security attacks. Ring is no exception and like most modern devices that communicate through a network, the Ring doorbell is also vulnerable to hacks and security breaches.
Even though Ring has consistently assured that the data breaches with Ring are not caused by the Ring infrastructure (Amazon servers, etc.), it is our responsibility as consumers to research and understand the importance of privacy with cybertechnology and take steps to protect our personal data.