One Ring to pwn them all: IoT doorbell can reveal your Wi-Fi key

All you need is a screwdriver and a smartphone


Security researchers have discovered a glaring security hole that exposes the home network password of users of a Wi-Fi-enabled video doorbell. The issue – now resolved – underlines how default configurations of IoT components can introduce easy to exploit security holes.

The Ring allows punters to answer people knocking on your door from your mobile phone, even when you’re not at home. The kit acts as a CCTV camera, automatically activating if people approach your door, letting homeowners talk to visitors, delivery couriers and so on.

There’s an optional feature that allows the kit to hook up to some smart door locks, so users can let guests into their home even when they aren’t in. El Reg's review of the $200 device can be found here.

Security researchers at UK consultancy Pen Test Partners were impressed by this functionality but shocked when they carried out a security evaluation of the device.

The major component is the doorbell itself, which comes with electronics and battery and is fitted outside the house. The electronics are connected to a back plate which attaches the doorbell to the wall and can provide power from an AC source.

The device is secured outside a house using two commonly available Torx T4 screws, leaving it vulnerable to theft. Ring offer a free replacement if the kit is stolen, so homeowners are covered in that scenario (at least).

However that’s not the end of the problems with the device. An easy attack makes it all too simple to steal a homeowner's Wi-Fi key. To do this, hackers would need to take the kit off the door mounting, flip it over and press the orange "set up" button.

“Pressing the setup button [puts] the doorbell’s wireless module (a Gainspan wireless unit) into a setup mode, in which it acts as a Wi-Fi access point,” Pen Test Partners consultant David Lodge explains in a blog post.

The doorbell bundles a similar module to the Fitbit Aria bathroom scales and is subject to much the same wireless module-related vulnerability.

“By connecting to a web server running on the Gainspan unit, the wireless configuration is returned including the configured SSID and PSK in cleartext,” Lodge explained.

Something similar happens with the bathroom scales. The massive difference between the Fitbit Aria bug and this particular bug is that the doorbell is outside of the house, making potential attacks far easier.

Lodge writes: “The doorbell is only secured to its back plate by two standard screws. This means that it is possible for an attacker to gain access to the homeowner’s wireless network by unscrewing the Ring, pressing the setup button and accessing the configuration URL.”

The configuration URL is simple, so the attack could be pulled off using only a mobile device and a screwdriver. The device could be screwed back on afterwards, all without leaving any visible signs of tampering, Lodge warns.

“This is quite a fail: walk up to door, remove doorbell, retrieve user's Wi-Fi key, own their network,” he concludes.

The Ring told El Reg that the issue had been resolved via a firmware update released months ago, but apparently not present on the kit tested by Pen Test Partners.

This security vulnerability was remedied with Ring's firmware update 1.5 on August 11, 2015. Ring is now on firmware version 1.6. Every time Ring is activated, whether with motion or a doorbell ring, it automatically searches for available firmware updates.

If users are concerned that their firmware may not be up-to-date, they can trigger the Ring; once the call ends, the button will flash white if there is an update. Once it's done flashing, the firmware is updated.

Pen Test Partners bought the doorbell from Amazon in early December. “Even if we were working on old firmware, the issue still stands,” Pen Test Partners Ken Munro told El Reg. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • Florida's content-moderation law kept on ice, likely unconstitutional, court says
    So cool you're into free speech because that includes taking down misinformation

    While the US Supreme Court considers an emergency petition to reinstate a preliminary injunction against Texas' social media law HB 20, the US Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday partially upheld a similar injunction against Florida's social media law, SB 7072.

    Both Florida and Texas last year passed laws that impose content moderation restrictions, editorial disclosure obligations, and user-data access requirements on large online social networks. The Republican governors of both states justified the laws by claiming that social media sites have been trying to censor conservative voices, an allegation that has not been supported by evidence.

    Multiple studies addressing this issue say right-wing folk aren't being censored. They have found that social media sites try to take down or block misinformation, which researchers say is more common from right-leaning sources.

    Continue reading
  • US-APAC trade deal leaves out Taiwan, military defense not ruled out
    All fun and games until the chip factories are in the crosshairs

    US President Joe Biden has heralded an Indo-Pacific trade deal signed by several nations that do not include Taiwan. At the same time, Biden warned China that America would help defend Taiwan from attack; it is home to a critical slice of the global chip industry, after all. 

    The agreement, known as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), is still in its infancy, with today's announcement enabling the United States and the other 12 participating countries to begin negotiating "rules of the road that ensure [US businesses] can compete in the Indo-Pacific," the White House said. 

    Along with America, other IPEF signatories are Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Combined, the White House said, the 13 countries participating in the IPEF make up 40 percent of the global economy. 

    Continue reading
  • 381,000-plus Kubernetes API servers 'exposed to internet'
    Firewall isn't a made-up word from the Hackers movie, people

    A large number of servers running the Kubernetes API have been left exposed to the internet, which is not great: they're potentially vulnerable to abuse.

    Nonprofit security organization The Shadowserver Foundation recently scanned 454,729 systems hosting the popular open-source platform for managing and orchestrating containers, finding that more than 381,645 – or about 84 percent – are accessible via the internet to varying degrees thus providing a cracked door into a corporate network.

    "While this does not mean that these instances are fully open or vulnerable to an attack, it is likely that this level of access was not intended and these instances are an unnecessarily exposed attack surface," Shadowserver's team stressed in a write-up. "They also allow for information leakage on version and build."

    Continue reading
  • A peek into Gigabyte's GPU Arm for AI, HPC shops
    High-performance platform choices are going beyond the ubiquitous x86 standard

    Arm-based servers continue to gain momentum with Gigabyte Technology introducing a system based on Ampere's Altra processors paired with Nvidia A100 GPUs, aimed at demanding workloads such as AI training and high-performance compute (HPC) applications.

    The G492-PD0 runs either an Ampere Altra or Altra Max processor, the latter delivering 128 64-bit cores that are compatible with the Armv8.2 architecture.

    It supports 16 DDR4 DIMM slots, which would be enough space for up to 4TB of memory if all slots were filled with 256GB memory modules. The chassis also has space for no fewer than eight Nvidia A100 GPUs, which would make for a costly but very powerful system for those workloads that benefit from GPU acceleration.

    Continue reading
  • GitLab version 15 goes big on visibility and observability
    GitOps fans can take a spin on the free tier for pull-based deployment

    One-stop DevOps shop GitLab has announced version 15 of its platform, hot on the heels of pull-based GitOps turning up on the platform's free tier.

    Version 15.0 marks the arrival of GitLab's next major iteration and attention this time around has turned to visibility and observability – hardly surprising considering the acquisition of OpsTrace as 2021 drew to a close, as well as workflow automation, security and compliance.

    GitLab puts out monthly releases –  hitting 15.1 on June 22 –  and we spoke to the company's senior director of Product, Kenny Johnston, at the recent Kubecon EU event, about what will be added to version 15 as time goes by. During a chat with the company's senior director of Product, Kenny Johnston, at the recent Kubecon EU event, The Register was told that this was more where dollars were being invested into the product.

    Continue reading
  • To multicloud, or not: Former PayPal head of engineering weighs in
    Not everyone needs it, but those who do need to consider 3 things, says Asim Razzaq

    The push is on to get every enterprise thinking they're missing out on the next big thing if they don't adopt a multicloud strategy.

    That shove in the multicloud direction appears to be working. More than 75 percent of businesses are now using multiple cloud providers, according to Gartner. That includes some big companies, like Boeing, which recently chose to spread its bets across AWS, Google Cloud and Azure as it continues to eliminate old legacy systems. 

    There are plenty of reasons to choose to go with multiple cloud providers, but Asim Razzaq, CEO and founder at cloud cost management company Yotascale, told The Register that choosing whether or not to invest in a multicloud architecture all comes down to three things: How many different compute needs a business has, budget, and the need for redundancy. 

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022