Ring devices finally get end-to-end video encryption

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Ring is rolling out a major update to its app to increase security.
Image: Ring

Those who own a Ring video doorbell might be surprised to know that the devices haven’t supported end-to-end encryption until today. While Ring announced the feature back in September, it is just now rolling out to consumers.

That being said, end-to-end video encryption is still a “technical preview” for the time being. This means that it will only be available for select devices. Regardless, the new feature is a huge one for users that value their privacy.

Getting Secure

According to The Verge, video footage captured by Ring devices is encrypted when it is being sent to the company’s servers and while it is stored there. However, the company also retains access to the footage to do things like share videos and stream clips through any device that’s signed in to your account.

Although Ring supposedly doesn’t view video footage without permission from each customer, it could theoretically do so if it wanted to. This fact leaves many users uncomfortable since they don’t want their personal videos accessible to anyone within the Ring organization—or worse, hackers.

Since Ring has the technical ability to view customers’ videos, it also means that the company is legally obligated to turn that footage over to law enforcement in response to a warrant.

Those who value privacy know that end-to-end encryption removes Ring from the equation. As the name suggests, end-to-end encryption keeps your video footage secure at every point in the process. This means Ring can’t view your videos even if it wanted to.

Ring’s chief technical officer told The Verge, “End-to-end encryption is really about user choice, to create that advanced layer of security. Some people like a second or third deadbolt on their house.”

Encryption Drawbacks

Of course, there are some drawbacks to using end-to-end encryption since it limits the features that Ring is able to offer. That could discourage some people from using it.

For instance, users who choose to enable end-to-end encryption won’t be able to view video feeds on devices like the Echo Show. Since the display can’t support encrypted streams, the video isn’t allowed to be sent to them. From a security standpoint, this is ideal. However, it does detract some convenience from Ring’s service.

As end-to-end encryption rolls out, it will first be available to Ring cameras that are plugged in rather than those running on battery power. These devices locally process their video to look for things like people entering the frame. Devices that run on battery rely on the cloud for those capabilities, The Verge notes. Unfortunately, this ability is hindered by end-to-end encryption.

At launch, the feature will only be available to U.S. users but comes at no extra cost. Roth says, “End-to-end is one of those features some users are going to love and some will say they don’t need it.”

For that reason, it’s nice that Ring is giving users the choice to opt-in. While it is certainly a personal choice, those who value privacy should seriously consider using Ring’s new end-to-end encryption when it rolls out to their devices.

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