Important information for smart home devices
While video monitoring may bring peace of mind to home and business owners, the digital technology that has made it possible also has created new security concerns. In the case of Amazon’s Ring video doorbell, a major security flaw was discovered that left homeowners vulnerable to spying and other malicious activities. While Amazon patched that security gap, others have been found, which raises new concerns.
The spy who loved me
Imagine you’ve just gone through a breakup and are in the process of moving your ex-partner out of your house. You’ve deleted his or her account and changed your password, but the ex is still logged in and spying on you and your guests. It’s as though you’ve changed the locks to your door, but anyone with an old key can still get in. Even though the password was changed, a flaw in Ring’s software was letting users remain logged into the app. And while the app has been updated, Ring advises users not to share their Ring account details.
Interception and diversion
Once hackers gain access to a home Wi-Fi network, they can gain access to Ring, intercept a live video feed and inject their own footage. This would allow them to take recorded footage of a family member, friend or pet sitter knocking at the door and trick a homeowner who is away from the house into unlocking the door remotely. The security flaw also could allow hackers to record and loop actual footage captured by the device to conceal other malicious activity. Amazon, which owns Ring, has since fixed this vulnerability, but it is a reminder of the risks raised by smart home devices and the Internet of Things (IoT).
What can be done to protect yourself?
Chances are slim that you or your family will be targeted by a hacker, but always be vigilant. Make sure your Ring software has the latest updates installed and keep a dutiful eye on the video feed. Here are some other steps you can take to make sure your Ring device is not enabling the security breach it is designed to circumvent.
Watch for Ring security updates: Ring distributes patches to remediate known security threats through software updates. The Ring app on your smart device will alert you to any action required.
Change the default security settings: Keeping the default security name or password is an easy way for hackers to gain access. Make sure to customize the network name and password for Ring and any other home device.
Secure your Home Network and Router: Ring devices use Internet connections to deliver audiovisual data, software updates and connect to your mobile device. They do this by using ports—virtual doorways through your router that allow devices to send information. Because Ring is connected to your home network, it’s susceptible to hacking from anyone who can access that network
Take the following steps to secure your home network:
- Create a complicated router password and limit access to that password. Commercial visitors – contractors, landscapers, realtors – do not need the password to your Wi-Fi. Just say no.
- Change the router’s administrative credentials. Most manufacturers set up the administrator account on routers with the same username and password. Anyone connected to the router can guess or Google its login credentials, which makes you vulnerable to hacking.
- Change the network name: It is common for router manufacturers to use the same administrative software on all of their models and brands. Using free network detection software, hackers can see all of the surrounding Wi-Fi networks in your neighborhood.
- Change the name, or SSID: Each network is identified by a name, called a SSID, and that SSID will probably identify the manufacturer or even the model of the router. Change the SSID, or name, of the router brand or model to something that is not identifiable. In other words, not your name, your address, or anything that can be deduced.
- Turn off Plug ‘n Play: The Plug ‘n Play option helps devices in your home discover the network and communicate with the manufacturer for software updates. Unfortunately, Universal Plug ‘n Play (UPnP) also gives hackers a way in to your home. Once your device is set up and working, it is prudent to turn off your router’s UPnP capabilities.
- Check Camera Positioning: If your Ring camera is pointed in an odd direction or seems to be moving on its own, this could be a sign of a security breach. Make sure to compare the footage last recorded to the camera’s positioning and check the activity log on the app for evidence of tampering.
Comparitech is one consumer website to find more security tips on Ring video cameras and other online products and services. And if you find yourself on the receiving end of a digital intrusion, be sure to contact Ring’s customer service department.