Amazon managed to parlay the tremendous success and brand recognition of its Kindle e-readers along with a custom forked version of the Android operating system to hit a home run with the Kindle Fire tablet. With a tablet ecosystem that is seamlessly entwined with your Amazon identity, though, securing the device is imperative.
The Kindle Fire is primarily a consumer gadget. Although many naysayers have claimed that the iPad is a consumer toy, history and reality have proven that untrue. However, it is hard to argue that Amazon’s focus is consumers—and providing a platform for promoting and distributing Amazon content.
If you are one of the millions who are using the Kindle Fire, here are some tools and features you should be aware of to secure the tablet:
1. Lock It. If you lose your Kindle Fire, or it gets stolen, whoever happens to “acquire” it could potentially read your email, access your Facebook account, or compromise other accounts and information. Make sure your Kindle Fire is set to require a password to access it to prevent unauthorized users from getting to your personal apps and info. Tap the gear icon in the upper right to access Settings, then tap “More…” to display the complete list. Tap Security, then turn on “Lock Screen Password”. Enter a password, then enter it a second time to confirm, and you are all set.
2. Lock Down Wi-Fi. You can lock down access to the Web so that surfing requires a password. This is particularly useful if you want to allow children to use the Kindle Fire without running the risk of exposing them to inappropriate content on the Web, or you want to lend the Kindle to a friend, but don’t want them connecting to any wireless networks. To lock your Wi-Fi, go into Settings, then tap on Restrictions. Turn on the “Enable Restrictions” option, and assign a password (entering it a second time to confirm as well). Once a password is assigned, a new setting appears to enable you to turn on “Password Protected Wi-Fi” and require a password in order to connect to a wireless network.
3. Restrict Applications. By default, the Kindle Fire is set to only allow apps from the Amazon App Store. There is an option under Device Settings to “Allow Installation of Applications” from unknown sources. Unless you really know what you’re doing, and are fully aware of the source of the apps you download and the inherent risk of downloading apps from unknown sources, I recommend leaving this option disabled and sticking with the curated apps from Amazon.
4. Clean Up the Browser. While in the Kindle Fire’s Silk browser, tap the menu icon at the bottom of the display, and tap Settings. Within the browser settings you can do all sorts of browser housekeeping and personal information management. There are options to clear all cookie data, clear the cache, clear the browsing history, clear stored form data, and clear out any saved passwords.
There you go. It may be a more consumer-oriented device than the iPad, or many of its Android tablet peers, but the Kindle Fire still has access to email, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Box, mobile banking, and other apps that may contain sensitive information or provide access to accounts and data. Make sure you protect your Kindle Fire and the information it contains with these security tips.