Amazon is being sued over its Ring security doorbells and cameras - here’s what happened

Monday, 28th December 2020, 12:33 pm
Updated Monday, 28th December 2020, 12:33 pm

Amazon is being sued after a number of people have claimed they were subjected to death threats, racial slurs and blackmail after the company’s Ring smart cameras were hacked.

The online retailer is facing legal action over so-called “horrific” invasions of privacy in a new class action lawsuit.

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The lawsuit against Ring combines a number of previous cases joining together complaints filed by more than 30 people in 15 families who say that their devices were hacked and used to harass them. The suit alleges that the less than stringent security measures at Ring allowed hackers to take over their devices.

According to The Guardian, in response to the attacks, Ring “blamed the victims, and offered inadequate responses and spurious explanations.”

The plaintiffs also state that the company failed to adequately update its security measures after the hacks took place.

‘Not sufficiently improved its security’

The lawsuit states that, at present, Ring “has not sufficiently improved its security practices or responded adequately to the ongoing threats its products post to its customers.”

Class Action states that Ring cameras cannot ensure the safety of customers’ accounts, and therefore their homes, due to its failure to:

  • Require two factor authentication
  • Double check whether someone logging in from an unknown IP address is the actual owner
  • Provide a way for users to check to see if more than one person is logged in at a time
  • Offer protection against hackers that use “brute force” to unlock accounts

Hackers accessing cameras

Those involved in the lawsuit against Ring told a number of stories of their cameras being infiltrated by hackers.

These include a family in Cape Coral who were subjected to racial slurs after a hacker gained access to the camera, an eight year old girl who was harassed by a hacker who got access to her bedroom camera and told her he was Santa Claus, and a Texas couple who were told that they would be “terminated” if they didn’t give the hacker $350,000 in Bitcoin.

In another case, an older woman living at an assisted living facility was allegedly told “tonight you die.” The woman had to move back in with her family due to the distress caused.

‘Just the tip of the iceberg’

Those who could benefit from the lawsuit don’t just include those named in the case, but also any other Ring users who have also been hacked. The lawsuit additionally covers the tens of thousands of customers who purchased a Ring doorbell between 2015 and 2019, even if they haven’t been hacked.

Hassan Zavareei, the lead attorney on the case, said, “I would imagine that there are a whole lot more people out there who have been hacked. This is probably just the tip of the iceberg.”

‘These devices should be melted down and never spoken of again’

Evan Greer, the deputy director of the privacy advocacy group Fight for the Future, said, “After a slew of terrifying headlines about their poor security practices, Ring has finally made some improvements.

“But implementing basic security that they should have had in the first place does nothing to change the fact that Ring cameras make communities less safe, not more safe.

“Ring’s surveillance-based business model is fundamentally incompatible with civil rights and democracy.

“These devices, and the thinking behind them, should be melted down and never spoken of again.”