Amazon: It May Be Easy, but It’s a Risk

Amazon: It May Be Easy, but It's a Risk

Now that Amazon is shipping the Kindle Fire, I got to thinking: what if you gift the Fire or any other Kindle?  Well, if you do, make sure you do what says in their post and keep YOUR Kindle account safe.  After I read this, I did some more thinking: What if someone stole your shiny new Kindle off of your porch? If this happens, then that thief has access to ALL of your books and can purchase books on your account.  This is bad.  This is very bad.  Gear Diary’s own Michael Anderson and Dan Cohen are both trying out the Kindle Fire, and both commented in our Yammer on how easy the setup is.  However, in this day and age, ease of use can also be a liability.  I think Amazon should stop shipping Kindles pre-registered to your account.  The practice is a risk to our credit cards and Amazon accounts.  Your stuff is still cool Amazon, but it needs to be secure too, and doing this is not a secure practice anymore.  Especially with the USPS, UPS or FedEx just leaving their easily identifiable packages sitting on your doorstep.

So how do you prevent this from becoming a problem?  Go to Best Buy or Walmart and purchase your Kindle there.  These are not pre-configured so your account will not be at risk.  Right now that’s the easiest way I know.  The second may be to just ship it to yourself as a gift.  That way if it does get pilfered, you’re safe.

Either way, ease of use usually does equal a reduction in security.  So when something seems very easy, start looking for the security reduction, and be careful!

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About the Author

Joel McLaughlin
Joel is a consultant in the IT field and is located in Columbus, OH. While he loves Linux and tends to use it more than anything else, he will stoop to running closed source if it is the best tool for the job. His techno passions are Linux, Android, netbooks, GPS, podcasting and Amateur Radio.

5 Comments on "Amazon: It May Be Easy, but It’s a Risk"

  1. When I first saw the new Kindle Fire commercial a while back – the one with the young woman in the red dress finding the package labeled Kindle Fire just sitting on her doorstep – I couldn’t help but think back to the depths of the recession where we were seeing home security footage of people stealing packages from doorsteps!  And as I found, the box DOES clearly identify the contents as a Kindle Fire.

    But as Joel said, it was VERY easy to set up … so I was surprised that I didn’t even need to enter my account password to continue!  Heck, to alter stuff on the device I need to do that.  It seems like a big risk for a 10-second time savings.

    I wonder how widespread this is – does Barnes & Noble also do this?  I know I got one phone from Verizon that was pre-programmed and thought that it could have been a similar risk, but in general they arrive ‘needing activation’.

    Any other similar examples anyone can think of?

  2. If you do not order the Kindle as a gift, you can still go into “Manage your devices” of your Kindle account and de-register the Kindle after it hits your account. In other words, while it is shipping, the device will be in that list, and you can de-register it. Then you can register it again when you power it up for the first time.

    • True. I’ve done that mainly because until you get the Kindle, Amazon lists it on your page. It always seems like the Kindle I haven’t received yet is the one that shows at the top of the drop-down list when I am ordering a new book. =P

    • There are an array of possibilities that Joel points out, but I think that the surprise to many – myself included – was that I could have gone and started buying stuff without even entering a password ONCE since I have already enabled one-click on my mobile devices!

      • I’ve been known to change my mind between putting something in the cart and going through the checkout process. That’s why I have always opted not to use One-Click ordering.

        It annoys me that Amazon takes away my preference on digital items. It’s One-Click or the highway.

        Regarding the Kindle Fire, though, couldn’t you deactivate it once it was stolen? I realize the thief might have continued access to titles that were downloaded to the device, but didn’t we learn that Amazon can pull content after the fact when they had the _1984_ fiasco some time ago?

        Also, is there a security risk that they could gain access to account settings, passwords, etc.? Or is it just that they could use it to buy books up until the point you realized it was gone?

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