Kindle Fire’s Silk Browser Poses Privacy and Security Concerns

by Daniel L

Image of Amazon Kindle Fire. Retrieved October 9, 2011 from: http://amzn.com/B0051VVOB2

Tablet computers have established themselves in the consumer device market and Amazon wants to get its feet wet by announcing their own tablet known as the Kindle Fire.  What makes Amazon’s tablet different from its competitors is the way it handles web browsing.  Amazon has developed their own web browser called “Amazon Silk”, which uses Amazon’s cloud to process and render web pages off the device, improving website performance on the device itself.  Websites with a plethora of content, including pictures and videos, can take a long time to load on the standard browsers most tablets are using, but with Silk, web browsing will be a breeze.  However, security and privacy issues arise when using this model of web browsing technology.  Every time a user visits a website, it will contact Amazon servers instead of the actual website directly, making Amazon the “middleman” that lies between any website, including secure ones, and you.  According to the terms and conditions of the Silk browser, Amazon will keep a record of IP and MAC addresses along with web history and logs for a period of 30 days.  This information can be obtained by the government in the event of an investigation.  Moreover, if Amazon servers are breached in any way, critical data can be compromised.

Amazon is most likely logging all of this data for their own benefit; for example, to see what shopping sites people are visiting and the prices they are purchasing products at, and to offer customers a more personalized shopping experience with relevant product advertising and pricing.  I am sure they know what they are getting themselves into, and the possible security threats that arise when providing such services.  But for the time being, until there is more information about the security and privacy measures they are taking, Kindle Fire users should turn off the cloud browsing feature of the browser.  If Silk won’t let you turn off that feature, there are alternative browsers available on the Android market.  I am interested to see how fast the browser compares to Safari on the iPad and the default browser on Android, and how well it can handle Flash video, but it still doesn’t justify giving up my security and privacy.

Daw, D. (2011, September 28). Amazon’s Silk Browser May Not Be Smooth When It Comes to Privacy. Retrieved October 9, 2011, from http://www.pcworld.com/article/240805/amazons_silk_browser_may_not_be_smooth_when_it_comes_to_privacy.html

2 thoughts on “Kindle Fire’s Silk Browser Poses Privacy and Security Concerns”

  1. If anyone is going to have strong security, I’d think it’d be Amazon. Then again, I would’ve thought Sony would have good security. So I guess there’s that. As far as other data goes, sure it’s annoying to have your information used in marketing research, but it’s not explicitly harmful. That is, unless you’re giving your information to a really seedy site…

  2. This is pretty interesting article. I remember that we were just talking about cloud technology last year. It is amazing that cloud technology has been implemented into consumer market. Amazon Kindle Fire uses Silk browser to connect its backbone EC2 server so that computing power will no long just depend on Kindle CPU. Security and privacy are always the issues, but I think technology industry should come up with a standard that everyone can agree on.

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