Privacy and security are real concerns, for a variety of reasons. Maybe you don’t want strangers to be able to access the e-reader account of your child and find out that child’s personal information. You may have been victimized by credit card data theft or had your financial details stolen, and are careful not to let that happen again through a vulnerable digital device with a subpar firewall and security system. Perhaps you value your own privacy as a constitutional right and want your devices encrypted as a matter of principle.
Amazon’s Controversial Encryption Policy
Whatever your concerns may be, you may have heard that Amazon recently dialed-back the security protections that are built into its tablets. That news came a shock and a disappointment to millions of consumers who use Apple products, and raised valid questions about whether other Apple devices – including Fire and Kindle products – are no longer as safe.
Apple versus the FBI
Apple is the news lately, too, but unfortunately it is not about a cool new consumer product. The tech company in at the center of a furious debate about whether or not to comply with requests from the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation to create a way for the FBI to view data locked-down inside the phone of a confirmed mass murderer and terrorist.
Amazon said it would remove encryption from its Fire tablets months before the battle began between FBI and Amazon, and now it appears to have been resolved in favor or the more robust security encryption provides. Amazon has announced that it is reversing its decision, and will keep encryption technology in its tablets. Apparently the uproar from customers make Amazon rethink its policy in favor of stronger security. By the way, the company explained that the reason it originally thought of doing away with encryption on tablets was because encryption technology costs more, and the company wanted to offer its products less expensively.
Convenience That Doesn’t Sacrifice Secure Privacy
We live in an increasingly digital world where tons of personal and even intimate data and confidential information is stored on portable and other electronic devices. That is super convenient and saves us time and money. But it means that thieves have migrated online and hackers are routinely stealing that data and using it for fraudulent purposes. That’s why technology providers such as Amazon, Apple, and Google reassure consumers that privacy and data protection is paramount. Imagine, for instance, that a hacker could break into the storage files of an unprotected device such as the Amazon Echo – which listens to everything said in your living room in order to perform as an electronic virtual assistant. Amazon goes to great lengths to provide technology to prevent that from happening. The same philosophy is behind Apple’s insistence upon maintaining strong encryption on its smart phones.
Why It Matters for E-Reader Users
Why this matters to those who use e-readers is that virtually any electronic device is susceptible to hacking. That is particularly true for devices that are connected to a merchant account where credit card information and other personal data is on file. Maybe a hacker cannot find a way to break into your bank account because the bank is on 24/7 lockdown. But what if that criminal can gather financial information about you from a less secure merchant account through an unprotected digital device like an e-reader? You can be sure they are going to try to exploit that vulnerability.
What You Need to Know
As long as the manufacturer of your e-reader device offers strong security technology, and the vendors you download your e-books from also pay close attention to maintaining powerful security protections, you should have nothing to worry about. But there are steps you can and should also take on your end, as the user of those products.
- Always use password protection to close and lock your devices when they are not in use. That includes smart phones, tablets, e-readers, and desktop computers. When making purchases online, be sure the merchant’s website is secure and that is security is continually updated.
- There are also some credit card companies that allow cardholders to use an app that generates a temporary, one-time-only credit card number tied to your account. It works just like your regular account number but only one time, so even if it is stolen it has no value.
- Financial loss due to fraudulent use of a credit card is limited to $50, as long as you report any loss or theft of your card. Debit cards have less protection, because those are connected directly to your bank account. So it is better to use a credit card or a prepaid card when shopping online.
Another clever way to carry more e-books around securely than you could possibly read is to purchase the innovative USB “stick libraries” sold by Free-eBooks.net, because then you have hundreds of titles you can carry around in your pocket. To read them you don’t even need the Internet, so they are really convenient when you want to read offline or take lots of reading material with you into a remote destination that may not have great Internet service.