Tips & Advice

Latest Ring hack shows families need better IoT security

Jeff Elder, 17 December 2019

Family security expert Leena Elias urges a variety of security measures, including a network solution like the Avast Omni

A chilling incident in which a hacker harassed a child through a Mississippi family’s Ring security system is the latest event pointing out the need for home network security, Avast’s Leena Elias says.

“This is heartbreaking,” says Elias (pictured), a family security expert and Avast vice president. “This family bought a device to feel more secure, and ended up traumatized. What this points out is the vulnerability that the Internet of Things has brought into our homes.”

Photo_Leena_EliasIn the Mississippi incident, an 8-year-old girl was called racial slurs and harassed by a hacker who accessed the family’s Ring camera set up in her bedroom. The hacker told her he was Santa Claus and asked to be her best friend, The New York Times and others reported.   

Ring, which is owned by Amazon, said the incident did not reflect a security compromise on the company’s part, and urged customers not to re-use passwords, and to set up multi-factor authentication, which requires users to enter a code sent to another device in order to sign in. 

Ashley LeMay, the Mississippi girl’s mother, said that response was insufficient. The family purchased the camera to check the health of another of their daughters, who experiences seizures. Now their daughters are scared to be in the bedroom, and the family has disconnected the camera. 

Last month a Ring vulnerability allowed hackers to access a home’s Wi-Fi network credentials. In October a hacker threatened to kidnap a baby by yelling into a home through a Nest camera. Many other similar incidents of IoT hacking have also taken place lately. 

“Ordinary people now need to be able to assess the security of new tech devices that could be used against them,” Elias says. “We need to use a wide variety of security measures to ensure that devices connected to our home networks are secure. That includes a network solution.”

Elias said families need to take several steps to protect their devices and home networks:

  1. On set up, make sure a Ring, Nest, or other IoT device has strong security credentials. Do not keep the default password or re-use an old or existing password from another device. 
  2. Always update devices with new software, which is often issued to address security issues. 
  3. Your network is only as secure as your router. Reset yours and change the password to a long, unique password. 
  4. Always enable multi-factor authentication on devices when available.
  5. Look at a network solution that protects all of your devices, such as the Avast Omni.  

Chosen as a Consumer Electronics Show Best of Innovation Honoree, Avast Omni addresses the growing problem of protecting your family from threats on the internet – on any smart device. Elias recently demonstrated how Avast Omni protects home IoT devices, mobile devices, and computers in a sneak peek of the best CES innovations. 

Come to Las Vegas January 7-10 for CES and see Avast Omni in action. We’ll be at the Living in Digital Times Event at the Sands Convention Center Booth #44564 demonstrating the great things Avast Omni can do.