Talk about creepy. In a string of recent incidents involving Ring cameras, hackers have invaded the privacy of families and completely terrified them. These personal home security cameras, which were purchased to keep their homes safe, instead became vehicles for criminals to virtually enter their homes.
In one incident, an 8-year-old girl heard “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” randomly playing through a Ring camera’s speaker, which was scary enough. Then, as she entered the room and turned on the lights, a man claiming to be Santa Claus told her to call her mom a racial slur.
That’s just one of dozens of reports of similar Ring camera hacks that have happened recently across the country. Ring said in a statement that it’s not their systems that were compromised, but rather that the creeps used passwords hacked from other accounts to access the cameras. Either way, the incidents are unsetting to say the least.
So, should you toss your Ring or other Wi-Fi security cameras? Not necessarily. As long as you’re willing to take some precautions, they can still be an important tool to help protect your home and family. Ring cameras are high-quality and loved by many, so we wanted to provide the information you need to keep your family safe from the hackers who are looking to infiltrate your Ring and other home security Wi-Fi cameras.
Here are five ways to help prevent your Wi-Fi cameras from being hacked.
1. Turn on two-factor authorization
This is the most important step you can take to protect your security cameras. Once you do, that means no one can access your account without providing two separate pieces of information. One will be your password, and the other will be a unique, randomly generated code that the company will send to you on your phone or other mobile device each time you attempt to access your account. So, if someone happens to get your password, it’s not enough; they have to have access to your mobile device too. It takes an extra few seconds, but it’s worth it for an extra layer of security. Most companies will not require that you turn on two-factor authorization, but it’s extremely important to do this if you want to ensure that your cameras can not be broken into by hackers.
You can turn on two-factor authorization under the Account settings on the Ring app with a few simple steps:
- Under enhanced security, tap on Two-factor Authorization and turn it on.
- Enter your password, then your mobile phone number.
- A six-digit code will be sent to your mobile phone.
- Enter the code, tap Continue, and your two-factor authorization is on.
2. Pay special attention to your password
Make sure your Ring account password (and any other password for that matter) is as strong as possible. It should be at least 8-10 characters with symbols and punctuation marks, and not something that can be easily guessed, such as the name of your children, street you live on or Ring123. Make sure that you definitely do not use the default password that the cameras came with and you certainly don’t want to use the same password you use for Facebook, your bank, online shopping accounts or any other accounts.
If you have trouble coming up with strong passwords or keeping track of them, you may want to consider a password manager. Don’t forget to change the password regularly too. If you tend to forget to change your password, put an alert in your calendar that will remind you to do so.
3. Share your account, not your password
When you want to share access to Ring footage and capabilities with family members, caregivers or other trusted individuals, don’t give them your password. Instead, Ring offers the capability to add shared users to your account. Each user will have their own unique password, and they should follow all the rules above for setting it as well. You can delete shared users at any time.
4. Check for security compromises
In some cases, criminals use passwords that have been hacked from other accounts to try and infiltrate new ones, which is why the tips above are so important. It’s also a good idea to know if your information has been compromised previously so you can be on even higher alert. You can check to see if any of your accounts have been breached at Have I Been Pwned.
5. Don’t access your Ring account on public Wi-Fi
While you may be tempted to log into the Ring app while you’re at your favorite coffee shop or while waiting for your flight to arrive at the airport, accessing it via public Wi-Fi can make you an easy target for hackers. Many public hotspots aren’t secure, and your information can be more easily compromised when you’re on one, even if you’re just browsing the news or peeking at your social media accounts. Instead, access your account only when you’re on a secure virtual private network (VPN).
The final word on protecting your Ring camera from hackers
While the potential for problems with Ring cameras will persist, taking a few precautions can go a long way to protect your family’s privacy. These incidents, as frightening as they may be, don’t diminish the increased security they provide for most families. In most cases, as long as you’re willing to take a few extra steps, the level of protection they provide is much greater than any threats they present.
This article has been reviewed and approved by Officer Banta.
Officer Banta is the official SecurityNerd home security and safety expert. A member of the Biloxi Police Department for over 24 years, Officer Banta reviews all articles before lending his stamp of approval. Click here for more information on Officer Banta and the rest of our team.