Holiday Season Tips: Cyber Security and Your E-Reader

With the biggest online shopping days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday happening this month, it is important to pay attention to your financial security, especially online and over Wi-Fi. You need robust passwords, trustworthy websites, anti-virus protections, and reassurance that your accounts are all guarded from personal data thieves. Virtually any computer and Internet-enabled gadget can be susceptible. So what about your handy e-reader? Is your Kindle or Nook a source of security worry?

An Epidemic of Cyber Attacks and Hacks

Last holiday shopping season it was a huge headline-generating sensation when the Michael’s store chain was hacked and cyber criminals made off with personal data on about three million customers. Then came the Target breach, which affected an estimated 40 million accounts, and it was game-changing news. But that was then, and this is now. Since those cyber attacks captured national and international attention, the volume of hacks and credit card data thefts has increased so much that it is barely newsworthy any more.

Neiman Marcus, P.F. Chang’s, Albertson’s and SuperValu grocery stores, Home Depot, Dairy Queen, Jimmy John’s, and several banks – plus hospitals and government agencies – have all experienced a data breach. Even a publishing company that is publishing a book by a cyber-security expert had its files hacked. No wonder the consumer public is becoming pretty used to hearing about the whole data hacking phenomenon.

Kindle Vulnerability?

So what about your e-reader? You may be concerned, for instance, if you read the news about a year ago that a German security researcher, B.D. Mussler, found what appeared to be a loophole in the computer code of Amazon’s popular Kindle e-reader (http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/kindle-security-flaw-could-let-hackers-take-over-your-amazon-account-with-a-malicious-ebook-9735811.html).

Because of that vulnerability he believed that hackers could infect the devices with malware or a virus that might potentially give them unauthorized access to your Amazon account. He notified Amazon, and they applied a fix to the problem, which seemed to be isolated.

The Greatest Security Risk

The vulnerability was spotted by Mussler in the summer of 2014, but was again remedied. The bottom line is that in terms of someone hacking into your e-reader electronically, you should not be overly concerned. The chance of it being hacked may be slim to none. What is probably a more likely and important security issue is the protection of the actual physical device itself.

There is a very real possibility that someone with bad intentions might pick up the attractive device and walk away with it when you aren’t looking. Regardless of whether you read books on a tablet, a smart phone, a dedicated e-reading gadget, or some other way, it is wise to protect that valuable device.

Helpful Security Tips

  • Does it have password capability, so that you have to enter a secret code in order to turn on the device or gain full access to it? In that case be sure you use that with a password that you never share with anyone.

 

  • When you leave your e-reader in your car, lock it in the trunk or at least hide it so it cannot be seen through the car window. Treat it the way you should tempting holiday packages, in other words, and don’t put the device where potential thieves might notice it and try to steal it.

 

  • Even if you are in a public space like a restaurant, airport, bar, or cafe, don’t leave your e-reader on the table if you are looking away or otherwise not paying attention to it. Otherwise someone might lift it while you are distracted, perhaps talking to a friend or using your phone.

The key to guarding your e-reader is really just common sense and a keen observance of the same kinds of steps and safeguard protocols you would follow with other valuables like your laptop or purse.

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