Ring Doorbell Scam: How to Protect
- Written by Christopher T. Vernon & Kesi St. Lous
- Researched by Vernon Litigation Group
Malwarebytes (David Ruiz) posted an excellent article this week entitled: “Please don’t buy this: smart doorbells.” Smart doorbells provide users with 24-hour video feeds and most companies selling these products also offer indoor and outdoor security cameras as part of the package. While virtually all these companies are pitching their products as a way to protect your family and a way to protect your business, they can be similar to adding an open doorway or window to your home or business that is custom made for the worst kinds of cybercriminals. This is happening with many other smart devices in your home, but it is especially troubling when the very purpose of buying, installing, and activating the device is to protect you and your family, and your business.
This big problem is now on full display in a very disturbing way as reported in a story about an eight-year-old girl hearing a man’s voice in her bedroom. This Washington Post story by Allyson Chiu not only involves a disturbing individual situation but reveals the potential for harm that the sellers seemed to fail to consider when heavily promoting these products as protection devices. The 8-year-old girl involved, heard music coming from her bedroom and when she went into her room the music stopped and a man’s voice began to talk to her. It was clear from the conversation that he was also watching her as he was talking with her through the camera system- which he hacked into- after the cameras were installed by parents looking to protect their daughter.
Not only is this situation with the 8-year-old girl something that creates a sense of anger and outrage over both the criminal and the sale of these defective products, but this situation may be the top of the iceberg. For example, if this type of hack occurs in a home or a business and the criminal does not try to interact with the homeowners or the employees at a business, then the criminal with have24/7 long term sight and sound access to everything accessible to the camera without detection. The opportunities for personal invasion of privacy inside your own home as well as the opportunities for financial crimes in the business setting are staggering.
We can be disgusted by the criminal activity involved, but that will likely fail to put a dent in the problem because law enforcement facing overwhelming jurisdictional and technological hurdles in catching and prosecuting these criminals who could be anywhere in the world. As a result, it is up to congress and citizens to pursue the companies profiting from the deceptive sale of these products because they are the gatekeepers who effectively sold you what turned out to be an open door and an opened window for criminals to gain virtual entrance into your home and business.
With respect to Congress, we have the remember they are charged with creating laws and this is not the job of the President or the Supreme Court. Therefore, one thing we can all do is to request our lawmakers (especially federal lawmakers) to enact proactive laws to begin to deal with the new cyberworld we already live in as opposed to expressing outrage and failing to take action. Many members of Congress have expressed outrage over profiting widely from customers without taking any meaningful efforts to protect the privacy of those same customers they are feeding off of - Facebook and Ring (Owned by Amazon) come to mind as examples of companies making staggering amounts of money while putting customers privacy and personal information at great risk.
Whether it is a lack of understanding the problem or a lack of will to address the problem, citizens need to notify lawmakers of their concerns and, if necessary, address this issue with their vote by backing candidates with the will and understanding to take on this problem that is not going away. And, in the meantime, victims need to go after the firms who are claiming they didn’t understand the technology risk while simultaneously profiting from the technology. It is not and should not be a one-way street for these gatekeepers and profiteers to benefit financially from their products and services, and then fail to take responsibility when those products turn out to have massive and horrible unintended consequences.
Vernon Litigation Group is based in Naples, Florida, with additional offices in Atlanta, Georgia. Vernon Litigation Group currently represents clients throughout the country who have been harmed by the actions of businesses. The types of cases handled by Vernon litigation include cases in court, arbitration, and mediation that involve the purchase of a defective product or service. Please contact us to discuss your rights if you believe you have a significant claim resulting from the negligence of businesses that turn out to be gatekeepers, profiteers, or otherwise fail to carry out their duties to you. For more information, contact our firm or call (239) 319-4434.