- Ring is extending its push into Australia at the same time it is facing scandals at home in the US.
- The security camera company, owned by Amazon since 2016, is facing lawsuits after customers complained hackers were able to access their devices and issue threats through them.
- Other customers have complained their children have been watched by outside parties, while the company’s internal privacy policies have also been criticised.
- Ring for its part maintains security has been compromised by customers practices rather than the company’s policies and security technology.
- Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.
“With Ring, you’re always at home.”
That’s the tagline of Amazon company Ring, which deals in smart home cameras that allow you to monitor your property at all times. Unfortunately, its products have also allowed others to monitor you at home as well, imbuing the line with a creepier tone at the same time that it expands its Australian product line.
“As a team of inventors, we are constantly pushing ourselves to identify innovative, cost-effective and easy-to-use security products that make our neighbourhoods safer,” Siminoff said in a release announcing the new products.
In February, it will begin selling its Ring Indoor Camera, a device about the size of a soft-drink can which is voice-enabled and has night vision, motion sensors, and two-way audio. Also available will be ‘stick up’ version for indoor and outdoor use.
“Both new cameras announced today are Alexa enabled. Just say, ‘Alexa, show the back yard’ to see Live View or ‘Alexa, answer the living room’ to begin speaking with whoever is in the home. Users can also see who’s there with Indoor Cam, and open doors for friends and family right from their Ring app with select smart locks,” Asia-Pacific managing director Mark Fletcher said.
The development of greater functionality, however, given the company’s security scandals abroad, may be more concerning than exciting for some. Since launching in the US and later in Australia in 2016, Ring has repeatedly been embroiled in privacy scandals, giving the security company a fairly poor reputation on security.
In the US, its security faults have rarely left the spotlight. It has been revealed that hackers have been able to remotely access the company’s camera, with intruders in some cases using it to spy on children and harass homeowners. That’s despite CEO and founder Jamie Siminoff defending the company’s standards as “top of class”.
Simionoff has instead blamed customers for using insecure passwords, rather than any fault with the company’s own security practices. Not everyone is buying it. Multiple lawsuits have been filed against Ring by customers who have allegedly had their security compromised by the devices.
“We’ve notified customers whose accounts we have identified as exposed and have reset their passwords. In addition, we are continuing to monitor for and block potentially unauthorised login attempts into Ring accounts,” a Ring spokesperson told Business Insider Australia.
In one case, couple Ashley LeMay and Dylan Blakely want to hold Ring responsible for its “defective devices and systems”. They say they were harassed by hackers who accessed their doorbell camera, threatened they were outside and demanded a payment of 50 bitcoins. If they didn’t pay, they were told they’d face “termination”.
“While our investigation is ongoing, we do not have any evidence that this incident is related to a breach or compromise of Ring’s system or network,” the spokesperson said.
Ring meanwhile confirmed just two weeks ago that it had fired four US employees after they abused access to customers’ video footage. The company has also come under fire for relaxed internal policies that permit that kind of abuse, with The Information revealing in 2018 how company engineers were able to live video stream customers’ products. More than 3,000 customers have also reportedly had their passwords leaked online.
“Although each of the individuals involved in these incidents was authorised to view video data, the attempted access to that data exceeded what was necessary for their job functions. In each instance, once Ring was made aware of the alleged conduct, Ring promptly investigated the incident, and after determining that the individual violated company policy, terminated the individual,” the company said in a statement provided to Business Insider Australia, noting it periodically reviews access and has reduced the number of employees with access.
It’s interesting though that as many of those lawsuits remain ongoing, and many of those security concerns remain unresolved, Ring is making a further Australian push.
After all, in the wrong hands, those camera features could have terrifying implications.
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