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Ring Smart Lighting review: Convenient and affordable home security products Review

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Ring acquired Mr. Beams, makers of standalone outdoor smart lighting products, in early 2018. Since then, the two companies have worked to integrate the motion activated spotlights, step lights, and motion sensors into Ring’s product offering.

The process took longer than anticipated, but Ring’s Smart Lightning lineup officially launched in May. Shortly after the launch, Ring sent me a bundle of various products to test out around my home.

The kit I was sent included a Spotlight, a Motion Sensor, the 2-pack of Pathlights, a Steplight, and a Bridge. Ring also has a Floodlight that comes in battery or wired configurations. Pricing ranges from $25 for the Steplight to $70 for the wired floodlight.

I’ve been living with Ring’s Smart Lighting products for just over a month now, and for the most part, they’ve seamlessly blended in with the rest of the Ring products I have installed at my home.

Setup


Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

The setup process is straight-forward and simple. First, you’ll need to set up the $50 Smart Lighting Bridge that serves as a hub for the lights, connecting them to your WiFi and any other Ring products you have in your house. In the Ring app, you add a new Smart Lighting device and then scan a QR code on the device. The Ring app identifies which of the Smart Lighting products you just scanned and then adds it to your account.

You can then link the light or motion sensor to other Ring devices in your home. For example, you can set motion detection on a Pathlight to trigger a nearby Ring camera to begin recording, or turn on the rest of the lights you’ve installed, including those in a Ring camera.

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In total, I spent maybe 10-minutes setting up the Bridge, two Pathlights, a Motion Sensor and a Spotlight.

Battery powered has a big downside

ring-smart-lighting-motion-sensor.jpg

Ring Smart Lighting Motion Sensor. 


Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

The Bridge needs to be plugged into a standard wall outlet using the included wall adapter and cable. Everything else in Ring’s Smart Lighting lineup requires traditional batteries. Batteries range from AAA in the Motion Sensor to D-cell batteries in the Spotlight and every size in between.

Ring uses standard batteries over rechargeable battery packs in an effort to achieve greater battery life, and achieve an affordable price point for the entire product line.

According to the company, you should only have to replace batteries in the Smart Lighting products about once a year. That will vary based on location and the amount of activity, of course.

One downside of using standard batteries is the amount of space those batteries take up. On something like the Motion Sensor, which uses three AAA batteries, the impact is not as dramatic — it’s bigger than the Wyze motion sensor. But when you look at the Spotlight that takes four D-cell batteries, you quickly realize how much space those batteries require. The Spotlight is bigger than the Stick Up Cam Battery I recently reviewed (the picture at the top of this review compares both devices), and for that matter, it’s bigger than the Spotlight Cam, a device that includes a camera and bright spotlights.

I would have preferred to have a removable battery pack that I have to charge once in a while (and pay a little more), and a smaller overall footprint. The Spotlight is almost comically big for just a light, and so far I’ve refused to permanently attach it to my house. It just looks awkward.

Experience

ring-smart-lighting-pathlight.jpg

Ring Smart Lighting Pathlight and the street that caused errant motion alerts. 


Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

The entire idea of Ring’s Smart Lighting is to light up the outside of your house, scaring wildlife or would-be bad guys in the process. Instead of having to run power to various parts of your property, the battery powered lights work together as a team.

Each light has a motion sensor that when triggered it will turn on its own light, and depending on your settings, other Ring lights and cameras. There are three settings for motion detection: Low, Medium, and High. I’ve tried all three settings for the two Pathlights I have in my front yard, and despite the road being roughly 50 feet away from the lights, I continue to get motion alerts whenever a car drives by.

Outside of overactive motion alerts from the Pathlights, the Spotlight and Motion Sensor have only sent alerts when there’s actual motion I care about. The controls and settings are easy to use and customize. I particularly appreciate the option to only have the lights turned on at night when motion is detected, saving battery life in the process.

Linking the lights or sensors to Ring cameras is a smart move, as well. Whenever a Pathlight detects motion, my doorbell immediately begins recording (that’s how I figured out cars passing by are to blame for the errant motion alerts) and the rest of my Smart Lights turn on instantly. An alert is sent to your phone, and you can then check your camera’s stream to see whatever’s lurking outside your phone.

Conclusion

I love the concept and idea behind Ring Smart Lighting. The added peace of mind that an area of my property where I don’t want to install a camera has a device that’s capable of detecting motion and alerting me is reassuring. I just wish the devices themselves were smaller, more streamlined, and had the same overall approach to design as Rings’ cameras.

The entire Smart Lighting lineup is affordably priced, and the Bridge can handle around 50 devices; more than enough for most users. For someone who maybe only has a Ring doorbell, but doesn’t want to spend money to spend the money on more expensive Ring cameras, Smart Lighting provides additional peace of mind.

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The Five Pillars of (Azure) Cloud-based Application Security

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This 1-hour webinar from GigaOm brings together experts in Azure cloud application migration and security, featuring GigaOm analyst Jon Collins and special guests from Fortinet, Director of Product Marketing for Public Cloud, Daniel Schrader, and Global Director of Public Cloud Architecture and Engineering, Aidan Walden.

These interesting times have accelerated the drive towards digital transformation, application rationalization, and migration to cloud-based architectures. Enterprise organizations are looking to increase efficiency, but without impacting performance or increasing risk, either from infrastructure resilience or end-user behaviors.

Success requires a combination of best practice and appropriate use of technology, depending on where the organization is on its cloud journey. Elements such as zero-trust access and security-driven networking need to be deployed in parallel with security-first operations, breach prevention and response.

If you are looking to migrate applications to the cloud and want to be sure your approach maximizes delivery whilst minimizing risk, this webinar is for you.

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Data Management and Secure Data Storage for the Enterprise

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This free 1-hour webinar from GigaOm Research brings together experts in data management and security, featuring GigaOm Analyst Enrico Signoretti and special guest from RackTop Systems, Jonathan Halstuch. The discussion will focus on data storage and how to protect data against cyberattacks.

Most of the recent news coverage and analysis of cyberattacks focus on hackers getting access and control of critical systems. Yet rarely is it mentioned that the most valuable asset for the organizations under attack is the data contained in these systems.

In this webinar, you will learn about the risks and costs of a poor data security management approach, and how to improve your data storage to prevent and mitigate the consequences of a compromised infrastructure.

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CISO Podcast: Talking Anti-Phishing Solutions

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Simon Gibson earlier this year published the report, “GigaOm Radar for Phishing Prevention and Detection,” which assessed more than a dozen security solutions focused on detecting and mitigating email-borne threats and vulnerabilities. As Gibson noted in his report, email remains a prime vector for attack, reflecting the strategic role it plays in corporate communications.

Earlier this week, Gibson’s report was a featured topic of discussions on David Spark’s popular CISO Security Vendor Relationship Podcast. In it, Spark interviewed a pair of chief information security officers—Mike Johnson, CISO for SalesForce, and James Dolph, CISO for Guidewire Software—to get their take on the role of anti-phishing solutions.

“I want to first give GigaOm some credit here for really pointing out the need to decide what to do with detections,” Johnson said when asked for his thoughts about selecting an anti-phishing tool. “I think a lot of companies charge into a solution for anti-phishing without thinking about what they are going to do when the thing triggers.”

As Johnson noted, the needs and vulnerabilities of a large organization aligned on Microsoft 365 are very different from those of a smaller outfit working with GSuite. A malicious Excel macro-laden file, for example, poses a credible threat to a Microsoft shop and therefore argues for a detonation solution to detect and neutralize malicious payloads before they can spread and morph. On the other hand, a smaller company is more exposed to business email compromise (BEC) attacks, since spending authority is often spread among many employees in these businesses.

Gibson’s radar report describes both in-line and out-of-band solutions, but Johnson said cloud-aligned infrastructures argue against traditional in-line schemes.

“If you put an in-line solution in front of [Microsoft] 365 or in front of GSuite, you are likely decreasing your reliability, because you’ve now introduced this single point of failure. Google and Microsoft have this massive amount of reliability that is built in,” Johnson said.

So how should IT decision makers go about selecting an anti-phishing solution? Dolph answered that question with a series of questions of his own:

“Does it nail the basics? Does it fit with the technologies we have in place? And then secondarily, is it reliable, is it tunable, is it manageable?” he asked. “Because it can add a lot overhead, especially if you have a small team if these tools are really disruptive to the email flow.”

Dolph concluded by noting that it’s important for solutions to provide insight that can help organizations target their protections, as well as support both training and awareness around threats. Finally, he urged organizations to consider how they can measure the effectiveness of solutions.

“I may look at other solutions in the future and how do I compare those solutions to the benchmark of what we have in place?”

Listen to the Podcast: CISO Podcast

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