Amazon is in the crosshairs of consumer groups — led by the digital rights organization Fight for the Future — this week following a series of hacks into Ring security cameras.
The organizations issued a “product warning” Tuesday urging consumers not to purchase Ring cameras, claiming the devices are unsafe.
“The dangers associated with these products pose a threat to families and the public,” the warning says. “As groups dedicated to protecting consumers privacy and safety, we are issuing this official product warning: Do not buy Amazon Ring cameras.”
Last week reports surfaced of hackers infiltrating Ring security cameras and harassing children. In Tennessee, a hacker broke into a Ring camera only four days after it was purchased on Black Friday. The hacker used the camera to communicate with an eight-year-old girl, claiming at one point to be Santa Claus. A similar incident was reported in Florida.
Ring — the smart doorbell company Amazon acquired in 2018 — has been under the microscope for months. The company has fielded criticism for its cozy relationship with law enforcement and a perceived lack of transparency. The consumer groups cite Ring’s work with police and the recent hacks as reasons to avoid purchasing the devices.
“Reports indicate there is a growing black market for software to hack ring devices, likely being purchased by stalkers, cybercriminals, and those wishing to do harm to children,” the warning says, pointing to a Motherboard report on software that helps hackers access Ring cameras.
Amazon and Ring are shouldering much of the blame for the chilling hacks, but security consultant Christopher Budd says the fundamental issue is password reuse:
For ease-of-use, these devices rely by default on passwords. In reality, people reuse passwords regularly. When we’re talking about configuring devices, password managers are nearly impossible to use and entering strong passwords on anything other than a full-sized keyboard is impracticable. When we talk about passwords and IoT devices, we have a perfect storm that effectively leads to password reuse and/or weak password use.
Amazon did not immediately respond to requests to comment on the product warning. The company is advertising and discounting Ring devices this holiday shopping season.