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Amazon Ring Facing Hacking Lawsuits, Privacy Warnings


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#1 LFC

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Posted 02 January 2020 - 06:22 PM

Amazon is being sued over its Ring system being hacked multiple times. I'm not sure I can buy liability over the failure to highlight the two-factor authentication that was provided.

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Much of the suit seems to rest on whether or not Amazon knew its Ring devices were susceptible to hackers and that it didn’t implement security measures to protect users. The suit specifically calls out how, as Recode reported on last week, Ring should have required its users to set up two-factor authentication for their devices’ accounts. Two-factor authentication requires a user to submit a second piece of information — like a code that has been texted to their phone — in addition to their password in order to log into a device or website.

Two-factor authentication would have prevented most, if not all, of the recent Ring hacks. Once a hacker gains access to a vulnerable Ring camera (and, according to Vice, this isn’t difficult to do), they can watch victims through the camera and communicate with them over its two-way speaker. There has been a spate of these hacks recently. In Florida, a hacker shouted racial slurs at a couple in their kitchen. In Mississippi, a man spoke to an 8-year-old girl through the Ring camera in her bedroom. And in Texas, a sleeping couple awoke to a hacker threatening to “terminate” them unless they paid a 50 bitcoin ransom. All of these incidents happened in the last month.

While Amazon does suggest that Ring customers should enable two-factor authentication, a 2017 study found that the majority of people don’t even know what two-factor authentication is, let alone how to use it. (If you are one of those people, Ring has a handy guide you should read.) Orange claims he didn’t know his Ring had two-factor authentication until after he was hacked.


This is the part that really jumped out at me, though.

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Earlier this month and in light of recent Ring hacks, several consumer and privacy advocates issued a group warning against purchasing Rings due to its security issues. The popular product review site Wirecutter suspended its recommendations of Ring’s doorbell and home security system for the same reason. Ring has also been accused of working too closely with the police, forming partnerships with hundreds of departments that gave law enforcement access to video footage (with the homeowners’ consent), as well as maps that showed the general location of Ring customers’ homes. The company’s Halloween round-up, which featured videos of children trick-or-treating, drew questions over whether or not the company had parental consent to share those videos.

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