Amazon Drops Fire OS 5 Encryption Support - InformationWeek
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3/5/2016
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Amazon Drops Fire OS 5 Encryption Support

Amazon pulls its Fire OS 5 encryption support, raising concern among users who like to access their corporate email on Amazon devices.

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Amazon has removed support for its Fire OS 5 encryption, a move that runs counter to the industry's stance on the importance of encryption and raises concerns among users who want to access their corporate email on Amazon devices.

Fire OS 5, which was released in the fall, removed encryption support because it was a feature that Amazon found users were not taking advantage of. The removal has nothing to do with Apple's battle with the FBI over iPhone encryption, according to a Wired report. On Thursday, Amazon joined several tech giants including Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Cisco in filing an amici curiae -- or, "friends of the court" brief -- with a California District Court in support of Apple in its iPhone encryption fight with the US government.

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Although consumers and enterprises may not have been particularly tuned into this recent development in Amazon's Fire OS, the controversy Apple is facing with the FBI over encryption brings a heighted awareness to this technology for consumers and what it provides. 

In a tweet David Scovetta, an IT security and compliance professional, said, "While Apple fights the good fight, @Amazon removes encryption as option from FireOS 5," and posted a portion of the user guide that outlines encryption support on the Fire Tablet:

Your device has encrypted data. However, device encryption is no longer supported in Fire OS 5. Follow the steps outlined below to save your data.

(Image: JurgaR/iStockphoto)

(Image: JurgaR/iStockphoto)

This move by Amazon raised red flags among some of its users, who complained that their companies may give them grief in accessing corporate email from their Amazon devices, according to posts on Amazon's Kindle forum.

User beekalmer said:

I have this same concern. It means I will no longer be able to my keep corporate email (exchange active sync) on my Fire HDX 8.9. Big downside!! I am shocked that such an important feature like encryption is being left behind. No more Amazon tablets for me.

User George Burdett said:

So I'm not alone in my concerns. Like you, I will no longer be able to keep my business email (exchange active sync) on my Kindle as our institution requires that encryption be used. I cannot believe Amazon just "deleted" this critical feature. So I'm faced with no OS updates or no email -- both poor option[s]. Added insult, have to do a backup and factory reset to get the update if I choose that route -- another poor option and much unnecessary work. I've been a Kindle user for 6 yrs. and I have been completely satisfied up until now. Amazon -- completely unacceptable, I am disappointed.

User John G. stated:

I now have four options:

1. Stay on Fire OS 4, and risk being screwed by the next Android security vulnerability.

2. Upgrade to Fire OS 5, and risk being screwed if my device is lost or stolen.

3. Buy another device.

4. Install a custom firmware.

None of which are desirable.

Although Amazon stated the removal of its encryption support for Fire OS 5 was due to a lack of use, it will be interesting to see if it will be added back in updates.

Dawn Kawamoto is a freelance writer and editor. She is an award-winning journalist who has written and edited technology, management, leadership, career, finance, and innovation stories for such publications as CNET's News.com, TheStreet.com, AOL's DailyFinance, and The ... View Full Bio

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