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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Ring’s battery-powered doorbells and video cameras now work with end-to-end encryption

Ring now offers end-to-end video and audio encryption on its video doorbells and battery-powered security cameras, more than a year after adding the option to its wired and plug-in devices. End-to-end encryption allows users of the company’s video cameras to keep their footage locked down, making it accessible only on their enrolled iOS or Android device. Separately, Ring also makes it easy to back up recorded videos when an owner sells or disposes of a Ring device.

When end-to-end encryption is enabled, no one other than the camera owner can access recorded footage. Even though law enforcement asked Ring, or its parent company Amazon, for the video, they were unable to provide it. Only the registered mobile device can unlock the video.

By default, Ring encrypts video and audio recordings when uploaded to the cloud and when stored on Ring’s servers. End-to-end encryption increases levels of security, giving only the device owner access and control over their images on a designated device and with a passphrase they own.

When Ring first introduced end-to-end video encryption in January 2021, the Ring Pro 2 and Ring Elite were the only video doorbells it ran on, leaving its most popular battery-powered devices — such as the Ring 4, the Ring Video Doorbell – out of the privacy part. It was also an option on all of its wired and plug-in cameras – including the Ring Floodlight Camera – but not on battery-powered options such as the Ring Stick Up Cam (battery).

Now, end-to-end encryption is available on all Ring cameras and doorbells currently sold, with the sole exception of Ring Video Doorbell Wired – its cheapest buzzer. Ring has a guide on its website with instructions for signing up.

Ring Stick Up Cam Battery

The battery-powered Ring Stick Up Cam joins its wired and solar-powered siblings with the option of end-to-end encryption.
Photo by Dan Seifert/MastStatus

But the heightened privacy protections come with caveats. When end-to-end encryption is enabled, users lose the ability to preview videos on the Ring app’s Timeline of Events view and in rich notifications that show a snapshot of the action in the notification before opening the app.

Additionally, shared Ring device users cannot view videos on their devices, and no user can share videos from the Ring app or view footage on Echo Show devices or third-party apps. End-to-end encryption also disables Alexa greetings and quick replies, where a Ring Video Doorbell can automatically answer a visitor. Bird’s Eye View won’t work either – an option on some Ring cameras that shows the path a visitor took to the doorbell or camera. Disabling end-to-end encryption restores all of these functions.

However, most of these features are useful conveniences – not essential to the primary use of a security camera. For many users, the increased privacy will be worth the loss of some convenience.

This week, Ring also introduced a new feature to make it easier to back up recorded videos when a user sells or disposes of a Ring device, such as if they sell it to upgrade to a new model.

The disabled device state allows a user to choose to save videos to their account without having to manually upload them (the only option available before).

When they go to remove the camera or doorbell from the account in the Ring app, a new Remove Device option will appear, allowing them to keep or remove events/videos from the device before removing it from their Ring account .

Videos will be stored on the account as long as the user has a Ring subscription. If they cancel the subscription, they will have to manually download all the videos they want to keep on a phone or computer.

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