At the height of the holiday shopping season, and in light of a slew of harrowing news reports of serious security and privacy breaches, digital rights and consumer privacy groups are issuing an official product warning to inform the public that Amazon Ring cameras are not safe.
See the product warning site here: RingSafetyWarning.com.
The warning was issued by a number of groups focused on privacy, security, and civil liberties, including Fight for the Future, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Consumer Action, Free Press, Demand Progress, Presente, Defending Rights and Dissent, Mijente, and Constitutional Alliance. The groups issuing the product warning are encouraging members of the public NOT to buy Ring camera devices, and to educate their family and friends about the dangers associated with them, especially during the holiday shopping season.
Last week, a man hacked into a Ring camera to watch an 8 year old girl and speak to her. He introduced himself as Santa Claus and then proceeded to have a conversation with the young girl through a Ring camera her parents had installed in her bedroom. Since this chilling incident, there have been new reports daily of other users and their families being harassed by hackers who’ve broken into their Ring devices.
This isn’t an isolated incident. Multiple security issues with Ring products, which already raised significant privacy and civil liberties concerns, have been reported over the past several months. Amazon’s Ring doorbells leaked user’s Wi-Fi passwords. Ring’s Neighbors app discloses users’ home addresses. In response to Senate inquiry, Amazon acknowledge they have no safeguards in place to protect users’ footage when shared with 3rd parties.
"Amazon is not taking the steps necessary to protect their users," said Ken Mickles, Chief Technology Officer of Fight for the Future. "Amazon knew user’s Wi-Fi passwords had been leaked and were compromised. They issued no warning to users to change their password nor did they take additional measures to ensure greater protection like requiring two-factor authentication. It was just a matter of time before hackers took advantage of these blatant security vulnerabilities."
In an op-ed for NBC News, Fight for the Future deputy director Evan Greer writes, "For too long we’ve been sold a false choice between privacy and security. It’s more clear every day that more surveillance does not mean more safety, especially for the most vulnerable. Talk to your family and friends and encourage them to do their research before putting a private company’s surveillance devices on their door or in their home. In the end, Amazon doesn’t care about keeping our communities safe; they care about making money."