Amazon’s home security company Ring is changing the way users log into their accounts to increase security and control privacy, the company announced today. Starting this week, Ring will impose a second layer of security by forcing users to enter a one-time six-digit code that is sent by email or text message when they try to log in to view the status of their indoor and outdoor cameras. The company that makes the popular Ring Video Doorbell also introduces new options that allow users to determine when their data will be shared with other companies.
The changes are Ring’s last attempt to overcome the privacy and security scandals that have been sustained in recent months. Last December, critics pointed out that Ring does not warn users when a new device or browser logs into their account and that two-factor authentication is not enabled by default. This means that if someone gets hold of someone’s Ring account password (which is not out of reach), they may be able to log in without the Ring owner having any idea. The costs of this can be high, because logging in to an account can let you spy on people through their security cameras.
The new e-mails and text messages reduce both problems. They let you know that someone is trying to log into your account (so you know how to change your password if you are not), and the six-digit code that they contain acts as an extra layer of security. It is not a perfect solution because support for authentication apps or hardware keys would completely remove the potential for interception, but it is a big step forward compared to the previous 2FA opt-in approach.
The other change coming this week has an impact on the way Ring shares user data with other companies. With the Ring Control Center you can now stop sharing your data with third parties that are used to create personalized advertisements. The company also pauses data sharing with third-party analysis services while working on a new opt-out option for the feature. Last month, one report from the Electronic Frontier Foundation discovered that Ring’s Android app contained multiple third-party trackers that sent personally identifiable information to analysis and marketing companies.
This is just the last change that Ring has made to its app to add more privacy and security controls for users after public protest. Last month, the company added a new privacy dashboard that allows users to better manage their devices and determine whether local police departments can request video footage from an owner’s ring camera.
Ring says the changes will be rolled out starting tomorrow and that all Ring users should have access to them in the coming week.