Wirecutter No Longer Recommends Ring Doorbells, and It’s About Time
The review site pulled its endorsement over a security risk. But there are even better reasons to shun this trendy surveillance gadget.
One of the best Cyber Monday deals in all of cyberdom this year, according to the influential review site Wirecutter, was the Ring Video Doorbell 2, which Amazon bundled with its Echo Show 5 smart display for $140. Three days earlier, another version of the gadget, the Ring Video Doorbell Pro, made Wirecutter’s list of “The Best Black Friday Deals You Can Get Right Now.”
Ring doorbells, made by a startup that Amazon acquired in 2018, have cameras that capture footage and alert you each time they detect someone moving in front of your house. You can stream the footage on your phone, record it for later viewing, and share it with your neighbors via Ring’s Neighbors app, a sort of virtual neighborhood watch aimed at porch pirates, burglars, and anyone else who might arouse suspicion.
For devotees of the site, which is owned by the New York Times, there could be no more persuasive endorsement. No doubt many people bought Ring doorbells as a result, whether for themselves or as gifts. They did so despite, or perhaps without knowledge of, a rising drumbeat of critical reporting on Ring, highlighting its shadowy connections to law enforcement, its corrosive effects on privacy, and its potential as a tool of racial profiling.
On Thursday, Wirecutter announced that it was pulling its recommendations of Ring doorbells. The move came after a series of reports of major security flaws in Ring’s systems, which allowed hackers to take over users’ cameras, left users’ Wi-Fi networks vulnerable, and exposed users’ personal data. A recent analysis by Motherboard’s Joseph Cox concluded that Ring’s security protections are “awful.” Yet Ring’s response laid much of the blame on its users, noting that the hacks were facilitated by people reusing old passwords.