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Amazon kills fondleslab file encryption with latest Fire OS update

Well, that's one way to differentiate from Apple

Amazon is warning customers that the latest version of its Fire OS will disable storage encryption in Fire tablets and Kindles.

The cyber-bazaar says people who want to keep files on their gadgets encrypted should not install the latest Fire OS 5.

Folks have pointed out that without full device encryption, customers using the fondleslabs for business will no longer be allowed to use Fire OS 5 devices for email and other activities that require at-rest encryption as a security measure. For one thing, if the hardware is stolen, its data will be sitting on the flash storage in the clear.

Information sent to and from Amazon's servers and the tablets remains encrypted.

"In the fall when we released Fire OS 5, we removed some enterprise features that we found customers weren't using," Amazon said in a statement to The Register.

"All Fire tablets' communication with Amazon's cloud meets our high standards for privacy and security, including appropriate use of encryption."

Tablets owner, meanwhile, are making their displeasure known in the Amazon support forums.

"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," writes user beekalmer. "I find this most recent move incredibly customer unfriendly. Regardless of whether you see the Fire as simply an Amazon front end or as a full-featured tablet, there is personal information stored on the device," notes Gerby.

"That information is now accessible to malicious actors if the device is lost or stolen."

The decision comes as Amazon finds itself caught in the debate between device builders and law enforcement groups over storage encryption. The issue has been brought to a head with Apple refusing an FBI request to unlock an encrypted iPhone owned by one of the San Bernardino murderers. Amazon, along with Google and Microsoft, have publicly supported Apple. ®

PS: Amazon is on friendly terms with the US government: it built a $600m private cloud for the CIA.

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