No, it’s true, they really did. Why? Beats the hell out of me….
This is the news that all Locally stored data on Amazon Fire devices using the latest Fire OS is no longer encrypted, and hasn’t been since last year. Anyone upgrading a Kindle Fire, or any Fire OS device to Fire OS 5 will be left really vulnerable to attacks from hackers. As well as this, any information left by users on their Fire device will be stored in plain text.
While Amazon’s Fire OS 5 garnered generally positive reviews and was praised for its refreshing new look and extra features, it now seems that Amazon also removed device encryption support. Amazon contend that it has maintained security features between Amazon’s cloud service, and also device communication, but that will come as scant consolation for anyone concerned about the protection of their own personal and private data stored on Fire devices themselves.
Amazon have responded to recent criticism with the following statement:
“In the fall when we released Fire OS 5, we removed some enterprise features that we found customers weren’t using. All Fire tablets’ communication with Amazon’s cloud meet our high standards for privacy and security including appropriate use of encryption.”
Users do not, unfortunately, have many options available to them if they want to keep their Fire devices encrypted. They can if they want, not update to Fire OS 5 and retain device encryption, something that will not help anyone who has already upgraded. But this then leaves them vulnerable as they will not receive security updates. Another option is to, well, just upgrade, and hope that nothing bad happens. And of course, users could just stop using Fire devices. I appreciate this last option won’t help anyone who actually has a Fire machine.
Amazon’s move seems to have gone against the current grain considering that almost all of its competitors are moving in the other direction and are making encryption on their devices as standard, and available as default.
However, drawing a connection with Fire OS 5, and the current Apple and FBI iPhone legal battle, as several other websites have, would be wide of the mark, as Amazon released the OS a good few months before Apple fell foul of the FBI.
Amazon’s decision to remove encryption protocols may however seem somewhat ironic given that Amazon has answered Apple’s call to arms against government intrusion, though unlike Google, and Microsoft, has itself failed to file an amicus brief in support of the iPhone maker.