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

  • Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise adds Wi-Fi 6E to 'premium' access points
    Company claims standard will improve performance in dense environments

    Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise is the latest networking outfit to add Wi-Fi 6E capability to its hardware, opening up access to the less congested 6GHz spectrum for business users.

    The France-based company just revealed the OmniAccess Stellar 14xx series of wireless access points, which are set for availability from this September. Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise said its first Wi-Fi 6E device will be a high-end "premium" Access Point and will be followed by a mid-range product by the end of the year.

    Wi-Fi 6E is compatible with the Wi-Fi 6 standard, but adds the ability to use channels in the 6GHz portion of the spectrum, a feature that will be built into the upcoming Wi-Fi 7 standard from the start. This enables users to reduce network contention, or so the argument goes, as the 6GHz portion of the spectrum is less congested with other traffic than the existing 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies used for Wi-Fi access.

    Continue reading
  • Wireless kit hit by supply chain woes in Q1, China lockdowns blamed
    Backlogs reportedly 10 to 15 times greater than they were pre-pandemic

    The Wireless LAN market was battered by a choppy supply chain in the first quarter of 2022 and lockdowns in China are compounding the problem, according to analysis by Dell'Oro Group.

    Many organizations have scheduled network upgrades, but supply is not able to keep pace with demand and backlogs are reportedly 10 to 15 times greater than they were pre-pandemic.

    Several manufacturers have cited components from second and third-tier suppliers as the cause of the bottleneck, Dell'Oro said, which means that the problem may not be a shortage of Wi-Fi silicon, but rather of secondary components that are nevertheless necessary to make a complete product.

    Continue reading
  • AMD refreshes Ryzen Embedded line with R2000 series
    The target? Thin clients and industrial devices – with new SoC family running up to 4 independent displays

    Embedded World AMD is bringing to market a new generation of Ryzen chips for embedded apps promising more CPU cores, enhanced built-in graphics and expanded I/O connectivity to drive kit such as IoT devices and thin clients.

    Crucially, AMD plans to make the R2000 Series available for up to 10 years, providing OEM customers with a long-lifecycle support roadmap. This is an important aspect for components in embedded systems, which may be operating in situ for longer periods than the typical three to five-year lifecycle of corporate laptops and servers.

    The Ryzen Embedded R2000 Series is AMD's second-generation of mid-range system-on-chip (SoC) processors that combine CPU cores plus Radeon graphics, and target a range of embedded systems such as industrial and robotic hardware, machine vision, IoT and thin client devices. The first, R1000, came out in 2019.

    Continue reading
  • DeadBolt ransomware takes another shot at QNAP storage
    Keep boxes updated and protected to avoid a NAS-ty shock

    QNAP is warning users about another wave of DeadBolt ransomware attacks against its network-attached storage (NAS) devices – and urged customers to update their devices' QTS or QuTS hero operating systems to the latest versions.

    The latest outbreak – detailed in a Friday advisory – is at least the fourth campaign by the DeadBolt gang against the vendor's users this year. According to QNAP officials, this particular run is encrypting files on NAS devices running outdated versions of Linux-based QTS 4.x, which presumably have some sort of exploitable weakness.

    The previous attacks occurred in January, March, and May.

    Continue reading
  • Ubuntu releases Core 22: Its IoT and edge distro
    A tougher nut to crack than the regular flavor, some will find it very tasty

    Canonical's Linux distro for edge devices and the Internet of Things, Ubuntu Core 22, is out.

    This is the fourth release of Ubuntu Core, and as you might guess from the version number, it's based on the current Long Term Support release of Ubuntu, version 22.04.

    Ubuntu Core is quite a different product from normal Ubuntu, even the text-only Ubuntu Server. Core has no conventional package manager, just Snap, and the OS itself is built from Snap packages. Snap installations and updates are transactional: this means that either they succeed completely, or the OS automatically rolls them back, leaving no trace except an entry in a log file.

    Continue reading
  • What if ransomware evolved to hit IoT in the enterprise?
    Proof-of-concept lab work demos potential future threat

    Forescout researchers have demonstrated how ransomware could spread through an enterprise from vulnerable Internet-of-Things gear.

    The security firm's Vedere Labs team said it developed a proof-of-concept strain of this type of next-generation malware, which they called R4IoT. After gaining initial access via IoT devices, the malware moves laterally through the IT network, deploying ransomware and cryptocurrency miners while also exfiltrating data, before taking advantage of operational technology (OT) systems to potentially physically disrupt critical business operations, such as pipelines or manufacturing equipment.

    In other words: a complete albeit theoretical corporate nightmare.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022