Ring Expands Encryption to More Cameras, Doorbells, and Users

The added security feature works only with hardwired and plug-in Ring devices

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Ring is expanding the use of end-to-end encryption in its hardwired and plug-in Ring security cameras and video doorbells. The company also is making the service available to all Ring users in the U.S. and some in other countries.

With end-to-end encryption, which was launched in January, recorded video footage can be viewed only on your smartphone or tablet. That means hackers won’t be able to spy on you unless they have your personal mobile device.

Ring and its parent company, Amazon, won’t be able to see your footage, either. You can enable the feature by going to the Control Center in the Ring app.

“Based on our testing experience, it’s rare to see end-to-end encryption in consumer IoT [internet of things] devices,” says Cody Feng, CR’s test engineer for privacy and security. “Ring might be one of the first home security companies to implement the feature, and we hope more companies give their users this option in the future.”

The encryption has some caveats, though.

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For starters, it works only with Ring cameras and video doorbells that are hardwired into an electrical box or plugged into an outlet.

The compatible Ring devices are the Video Doorbell Pro, Video Doorbell Pro 2, Video Doorbell Elite, Video Doorbell Wired, Floodlight Cam, Floodlight Cam Wired Plus, Floodlight Cam Wired Pro, Spotlight Cam Wired, Spotlight Cam Mount, Stick Up Cam Plug-In, Stick Up Cam Elite, and Indoor Cam.

The feature does not work with Ring’s popular battery-powered devices, including the new Ring Video Doorbell 3 and 3 Plus models. Unlike with hardwired and plug-in Ring devices, battery-powered models do not have the computing power needed to support end-to-end encryption.

We asked Ring if the feature will come to battery-powered devices in the future, but a Ring spokesperson would only say that “Ring is working to ensure all our customers have an enhanced security option.”

In addition to limits on the types of devices that can use end-to-end encryption, enabling the feature disables a number of other features. The list includes:

  • Shared user accounts
  • Ring’s apps for Mac and Windows
  • The Rapid Ring app for Android and iOS
  • Voice control through Amazon Alexa
  • Event timelines
  • Camera previews in the Ring app dashboard
  • The ability to easily share videos with others and the Ring Neighbors network

You’ll have to decide whether the increased security is more important to you than the convenience these features provide. For more on the disabled features, see Ring’s Help Center.

If you own a compatible Ring camera or doorbell and would like to try the end-to-end encryption, you can enable it in the Ring app’s Control Center by clicking on Video Encryption, followed by Advanced Settings. (If you end up not liking the feature, you can disable it later.) For more information on securing Ring devices, see our guide to using Ring’s Control Center for better privacy and security.

End-to-end encryption is one of the latest moves by Ring to improve the security of its products. The company is also launching support for authentication apps and CAPTCHA (those image puzzles you have to successfully complete to prove you’re human) to improve account security, as well as creating a “self-service device transfer” process so that you can give away or sell used Ring devices without compromising your privacy and security.

Over the past few years, the company has dealt with privacy concerns around police partnerships, software vulnerabilities in its products, and a string of instances of hacked user accounts, to name a few. The company now faces a class-action lawsuit from users affected by the hacks.

Consumer Reports recently tested the data privacy and data security of new Ring cameras and doorbells. The devices receive a Very Good rating for data security but a Fair score for data privacy.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with new information from Ring about its end-to-end encryption and other new security features. The article was first published Jan. 13, 2021.

Home Content Creator Daniel Wroclawski

Daniel Wroclawski

I'm obsessed with smart home tech and channel my obsession into new stories for Consumer Reports. When I'm not writing about products, I spend time either outside hiking and skiing or up in the air in small airplanes. For my latest obsessions, follow me on Facebook and Twitter (@danwroc).