Ring Expands Encryption to More Cameras, Doorbells, and Users
The added security feature works only with hardwired and plug-in Ring devices
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.
- 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.