Updated 02/03/2020 to include new information about data sharing and Control Center limitations.
Home security has gotten a huge boost in recent years from new technology. Even your doorbell is getting smarter.
For example, Ring doorbells have security cams that let you see who is at your door or if a porch pirate is stealing packages. Unfortunately, Ring has been in the news recently for all the wrong reasons. Tap or click here to see how thousands of Ring passwords were leaked online.
Amid major security concerns, Ring is making some changes that are supposed to ease customer’s fears. But will it work?
Ring updates its mobile apps to beef up privacy
In response to widespread security concerns, Ring announced it is adding a privacy dashboard to its mobile apps called Control Center. This new dashboard will let Ring users manage their connected devices and third-party services.
It will give users the ability to decide if local police departments who are partnered with Ring can access video taken from their Ring devices. The privacy dashboard will be launched later this month and will be accessible from Ring apps on both Apple and Android devices.
The company promised to add more features in the future, including giving users the ability to see and remove logged-in users directly from the app. You will also be able to set up two-factor authentication (2FA) from the app.
Ring has had 2FA available for quite a while, and the company stresses the importance of enabling it. The problem is not everyone was aware that it’s available and some didn’t know how to set it up.
The new privacy dashboard will make it easier to secure your Ring devices. Having all of its security and privacy settings in one place will simplify things for users. In fact, for new customers, 2FA will be enabled automatically in the future. Users will have to opt-out of 2FA if they don’t want to use it for some reason.
Securing your Ring devices
After thousands of Ring customer’s passwords were leaked online, the company suggested the following security precautions to stay protected:
Enable Two-factor authentication (2FA) – For new customers in the future, 2FA will automatically be enabled; however, if you are a current Ring user you’ll need to enable 2FA on your own. Tap or click here to learn more about the importance of 2FA.
Use unique, strong passwords – If you haven’t updated your Ring password, or it isn’t very strong, it’s time to change it. Even if your account wasn’t part of the recent leak, it’s always a good idea to have unique passwords for every site and service you use — and make sure they are tough to crack. Tap or click here for help creating strong passwords.
To update your Ring password, open the Ring app >> tap the three-lined icon to open the side menu >> tap Account >> tap Change Password (passwords must be at least 8 characters, a mix of letters and numbers, and can have no special characters) >> enter your current password >> enter your new password >> confirm.
Utilize Ring’s “Shared User” feature – Instead of sharing your Ring credentials, utilize the Shared User feature found in the Ring app. This will let you add people to your Ring account without giving them the password. They will be able to access your Ring device and take advantage of all its features, but your credentials won’t be in anyone else’s hands.
To access the Control Center, click the icon on the top left corner of the app — there is no Control Center for PC versions — and follow the on-screen instructions to enable 2FA, change your password or adjust the Shared User feature. Tap or click here for 3 settings you must change on your Ring video doorbell.
Is the Control Center enough?
While the company has offered more ways to secure your account, it doesn’t have an option to opt-out of data-sharing. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Ring has been selling data from Android users who use the Ring app straight to the one place no one wants their private data: Facebook.
Pocket-lint spoke with Ring, asking why it was sharing data with Facebook, even for users who don’t have accounts, and the company responded that it shares data to help “evaluate the use of our mobile app, which helps us improve features, optimi[z]e the customer experience, and evaluate the effectiveness of our marketing.”
Unfortunately, we all know Facebook doesn’t care about its users’ privacy. In fact, it continuously sells user data regardless of permission settings. Tap or click to see how Facebook sold your data — again.
It also tracks users whether they want it to or not. Tap or click here to see how Facebook admitted to tracking user location despite permission settings. And it doesn’t bother securing accounts as well as it should. Tap or click here to learn about Facebook’s data breach that affected millions.
Customers have no idea their data is being sold to Facebook because Ring only lists four sites it shares data with, and Facebook isn’t on the list. Tap or click here to see how Ring is handing over your data to Facebook.
What’s worse, is Ring is owned by Amazon, and it recently had to fire employees who not only accessed Ring cameras to spy on people in their own homes, but they were also sharing users’ private data with third-parties. Tap or click here to learn more about Amazon employees being fired for leaking customer information.
Even if you use the security precautions now offered on your Ring device, there’s no stopping Amazon employees from mishandling your information or spying on you, and there’s nothing you can do about it selling your data to Facebook.
While these issues remain, the one thing you can breathe easy about is the Control Center offers you more layers of protection to keep hackers out of your account.
It’s too bad the company responsible for your security is the one you have to be wary of. But hopefully, with enough backlash, that will change. Until it does, always be careful what details you share with online services.