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Ring’s Founder Rebuts Concerns About Security of Connected Home Devices

July 15, 2019, 10:43 PM UTC

Connected doorbell maker Ring said that its success depends on providing its customers with secure and privacy-friendly products, and that, therefore, protecting customers from hackers and malware is critical.

“If we ever breach those things, then we’ll lose trust,” said, Jamie Siminoff, Ring’s founder and chief inventor. “Then people won’t buy our products.”

Siminoff told the audience at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colo. on Monday that Ring’s advantage is that it can tap the expertise of Amazon, which bought Ring for $1 billion last year. Amazon has spent years securing data across its platforms, especially with its Amazon Web Services.

But privacy and safety concerns continue to rise as more and more devices in the home are connected online, giving hackers more avenues to steal data and private information. Samsung, for example, recently asked customers who bought its TVs to run antivirus scans on them to ensure that they’re not infected with malware.

“I actually don’t have any smart devices in my house because I’m pretty paranoid about security,” John Hanke, CEO of video gaming company Niantic, told the audience at the conference. “The surface area there seems really porous and vulnerable.”

Founded in 2012 in Santa Monica, Calif., Ring set out to create a connected doorbell that would let users see and hear anyone at their door via video on a mobile app. One year after it was founded, Ring’s executives appeared on ABC’s fundraising show “Shark Tank,” where the celebrity investors decided against investing in the company. At the time, Siminoff said he was “totally broke.”

Over the next five years, Ring went on to raise $440 million before being acquired by Amazon. At the time of acquisition, Ring had ballooned to 2,000 employees.

Although Siminoff voiced confidence in Ring making its products safe from hackers, he was less clear about handling the racism and discrimination that sometimes infects its Neighbors app. The app is supposed to serve as a neighborhood watch forum, but in some cases, users racially profile visitors to the neighborhood and accuse them of petty crimes.

Siminoff emphasized that Ring has strict guidelines for using the forum and added that moderators do a good job of policing it around-the-clock.

“We realize crime and safety really requires compassion and balance,” he said. “We always welcome and listen to feedback.”

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—Analyst: Expect more tech regulation despite declining user privacy concerns

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