Ring trials customer video end-to-end encryption for smart doorbells

Ring has launched a technical preview of video end-to-end encryption to bolster the security of home video feeds.

This week, the Amazon-owned smart doorbell maker said the feature is currently being rolled out to customers in order to elicit feedback, and if it proves to be successful, end-to-end video encryption could eventually be offered to users that want to add an “additional layer of security to their videos” as an opt-in feature. 

“We will continue to innovate and invest in features that empower our neighbors with the ability to easily view, understand, and manage how their videos and information stay secure with Ring,” the company says. 

End-to-end encryption aims to protect data from being hijacked, read, or otherwise compromised by preventing anyone other than an intended recipient from being able to unlock and decrypt information — whether this is messages, video feeds, or other content.

Ring says that videos are already encrypted in transit — when footage is uploaded to the cloud — and also when at rest, which is when footage is stored on Ring servers. However, the new feature will implement encryption at the home level, which can only be recovered by using a key stored locally on user mobile devices. 

The company says the feature has been “designed so that only the customer can decrypt and view recordings on their enrolled device.”

In order to enable the feature for Ring devices, users involved in the rollout can select this option from the Video Encryption page in the Ring app’s control center. 

Ring has come under fire in recent months due to security concerns. In December 2020, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Ring following “dozens” of customers experiencing death threats, blackmail attempts, and verbal attacks. The lawsuit claims that shoddy security opened the door for their devices to be hijacked by harassers, leading to distress and invasions of privacy.

As noted by sister site CNET, Ring confirmed that any end-to-end encrypted videos cannot be viewed by Ring, Amazon, or any law enforcement official. If the feature is enabled, this also impacts the Ring Neighbor program, in which customers can voluntarily share video feeds with law enforcement — as end-to-end encrypted footage will not be viewable. 

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