Ring Drops A Major App Update, Placing Privacy And Security Settings Front And Centre

Ring Drops A Major App Update, Placing Privacy And Security Settings Front And Centre
Photo: Chip Somodevilla (Getty

Ring has begun pushing out an update to its phone app with the aim of consolidating its privacy and security settings, a likely response to consumer concerns about “hackers” who’ve hijacked in-home camera feeds in recent months.

The changes, teased at CES 2020, include implementation of a “Control Centre” within the Ring app to allow owners of its security devices easy access to security options, including two-factor authentication—an easy-to-use feature that, as Gizmodo has reported, all but entirely prevents cameras from being hijacked remotely.

The controls also allow users to see a list of devices authorised to access Ring accounts. Users can easily remove unfamiliar devices and users associated with their account, if necessary. The same goes for external services linked to Ring products, such as home assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, which enables voice control.

Screenshot: Ring

Ring pushed the update out to an account used by Gizmodo ahead of schedule so that reporters could review the functionality. While most of the features added to the Ring Control Centre were already accessible to users, Ring has redesigned the app in ways that will undoubtedly raise awareness of their availability and ensure they’re more readily accessible.

In an email to Gizmodo, Ring said it was also rolling out additional features that were new:

Ring is also excited to launch some additional new security features. Currently, email notifications are sent to a Ring user when a login using their credentials occurs from a new client hardware device or a new IP address, and in February users will also see:

Approval Broadcast: Users will be able to use two-step verification to authorise any new client device that logs in with correct credentials before that device can gain access to the Ring account. Users will receive an email letting them know that a new device has logged into their account, and the user will have to manually confirm the new client device before it can gain access to their Ring account.

Two-Factor as the Default Setting: Two-factor authentication will be a mandatory part of the setup flow for all new accounts, meaning users will have to manually opt-out of two-factor authentication setup.

All in all, the update is a step in the right direction for a company that’s been plagued over the past year by questions about its commitment to user privacy; to the point, in fact, that federal lawmakers had begun publicly criticising its practices.

What the updates will not resolve are the lingering questions about Ring’s efforts to promote its consumer products as useful tools for law enforcement agencies, more than 700 of which are currently partnered with the Amazon-owned company.