Smart doorbell owner heard audio from other house thanks to a weird bug

Posted by Paul Braren on May 14 2016 (updated on May 25 2016) in
  • Review
  • Ring
  • SmartHome
  • It's been a bit of a rough week for IoT. On a recent Home Gadget Geeks podcast, I was lamenting the fact that home WiFi routers don't yet have a way to isolate all your cloud connected IoT gear off onto their own subnet, since such consumer tech tends to eventually succumb to various firmware vulnerabilities that don't get patched. Instead of fixing what they got, companies tend to instead encourage owners to simply upgrade to the latest and greatest and patched products. Let's hope Ring doesn't act that way, 2-3 years from now.

    Security concerns were expressed after an Intel pitch about IoT that I went to last year, with the first question from the audience being very blunt, asking broadly "what about security?" Any device that goes unpatched these days becomes vulnerable, potentially making our home networks more vulnerable to attack. See also Ars Technica's recent article about glibc, Extremely severe bug leaves dizzying number of software and devices vulnerable. I'd rather a breach only lead to my cloud-connected devices, rather than ALL home's my devices.

    Then there's this bit of a rough patch at SmartThings right now, as discussed on the latest Security Now 559 - Dumb SmartThings, starting at this spot discussing defeating alarms.

    Well, that's just some stuff to worry bout, the sorts of concerns that could affect the success of the burgeoning IoT industry, especially when it comes to door locks and security devices.

    What about a privacy related oops that I accidentally discovered myself this week, when viewing a Ring Video Doorbell Pro video...

    Video Mixup


    Earlier today, The Verge broke the story that Ring Video Doorbell Pro users have been reporting video mixups, see details, and Ring's response:

    Now you know where I got my article title from.

    Audio Mixup

    What about the flaw that I found first-hand just this past Thursday, May 12th, a mere 2 weeks into my somewhat bumpy first two weeks of Ring Video Doorbell Pro ownership, see the full saga complete with thermal images and voltage readings, at:

    Here's the audio issue. 16 seconds into a 40 second cloud recording, the audio cuts over to some other family's audio. I don't wish to share the segment, as it's mostly the voices of some kids, and an adult talking about some snacks. Yeah, this incident has me a bit creeped out.

    I'm awaiting an official response from Ring on this audio incident, and will publish it here if I get one.

    Despite these unfortunate reports, I need to emphasis that I'm still quite happy with my Ring Video Doorbell Pro purchase overall, and knew full well I was getting this device in the early adopter phase, having ordered it the day pre-orders were first accepted.

    Just wanted you to know, to help you be a more informed buyer, should you choose to purchase the new Pro. Hopefully this problem will be rectified quickly, if it hasn't been already.


    As of May 14 2016, the Pro is still not available on Amazon, but if you're in the US, this doorbell is now available online and in stores:

    or you can order directly from

    May 14 2016 Update 1

    Received a response from Jamie Siminoff, Chief Inventor and Founder, at 1:33pm EDT already. He confirmed that the same statement made to The Verge also applies to the audio issue I've reported:

    We use random numbers to generate a call ID from Ring products. We did a very robust Beta test of the new Ring Video Doorbell Pro on experimental software, and when we moved it out of Beta for the commercial launch, some customers' numbers were in two different databases. As a result, those call ID numbers were overwritten. We believe, based on all the data we have analyzed, that this caused less than ten instances - out of more than 4 million calls per day and over 84 million calls in total - where video recordings overlapped for Ring Video Doorbell Pro users only. We are in the process of merging those databases so this will no longer occur. This issue only effected Ring Video Doorbell Pro users, not users of our other products, Ring Video Doorbell and Ring Stick Up Cam.

    Sorry I bugged folks on the weekend, this story would appear to be over already, which is a very good thing. Any future updates about my planned Pro watt usage tests will be made below my original story.

    Now we just need to wait and see if other video and/or audio mixup reports surface, from here forward.

    Have a good Saturday everybody, back to my usual weekend tinkering for me, and answering the doorbell when the Amazon Prime deliveries arrive with more parts, as I prepare for more home server presentations.

    May 25 2016 Update 1

    Audio bugs

    Gladly, no more audio mixups noticed in my cloud recordings, although I haven't listened to each and every one of them. With many nighttime false motion detection events, that would be pretty painful to do, actually.

    See also at TinkerTry

    See also