Amazon Now Demanding That You Update Your (Very Old) Kindle

4314557761_d9aee610ef_bAs a rule, Amazon tends not to update their older Kindle models. For example, the most recent Kindle firmware update (v5.7.2) was only made available for the 2013 Kindle Paperwhite and the more recently released Kindle Voyage and basic Kindle.

But now it appears Amazon is making an exception to this policy.

Several sources have reported that Amazon is sending out emails demanding that Kindle owners update their ereaders. The email includes instructions on how to download the update, as well as this ominous warning:

If you do not update the devices' software by March 22, 2016, you will no longer be able to access Kindle services or get the update via Wi-Fi or a wireless connection. To resume access, you will need to manually update the software on each of your Kindle devices. Please visit our Help page for more details on how to update automatically: www.amazon.com/ku2016

I have not received this email, but I'm told that Amazon is sending it to all Kindle owners, including people who own older Kindle models like the Kindle DX, original Kindle, and the Kindle Keyboard.

While that would appear to be a mistake, members of MobileRead have investigated and discovered that Amazon has released updates for the older Kindle models, including the original Kindle (which launched in November 2007).

The update for the original Kindle is only 12KB in size, and according to the techie who unpacked the update it only makes a small change to a single folder (/opt/usr/java/lib/security/cacerts).

Based on the context (edit: and the) this is clearly a security update of some kind. It's most likely one which affects how the Kindles communicate with Amazon's servers.

So if you get a notice, you should update your Kindle immediately. (Better yet, why wait?)

P.S. Did you get the notice, and have you acted on it? (Not everyone has received it.)

image by Strupey

About Nate Hoffelder (11579 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

73 Comments on Amazon Now Demanding That You Update Your (Very Old) Kindle

  1. I received it.
    I was planning to update my mother’s KT and PW2 anyway.
    I wasn’t planning to look for an update for the nearly-dead (insurance) K2 nor do I intend to. Manual updates don’t scare me.

    • I received email 3 times. . Maybe because I had one touch and two paperweight. Everytime I go there to the link it says my paper white was fine. Doesn’t need anything. Until I open my 2015 tonight just to find out screen looked different than the day before. Actualy visuals are better. Better interface and easy to navigate. Even fonts look better, collections has badges that shows number of boos there. Percentage that you have read also is a badge, not a bar. One new font called dyslexic, looks weird to me but I am sure helps some. . But even regular font and small thinner fonts are more readable. Remember like you can read smaller fonts in your cell phone but they are not big enough to read comfortably in e_ink in kindle? . Not anymore. It’s as much readable in paperweight now. . So you can go down a notch in font size. My opinion could be subjective but that was my take. . Love to hear from others

    • I received it last night and followed the instructions, however when I click on the ‘sync and check for items’ (as per the directions in the email), I get a message saying ‘no new items’…

      • Me too. I am at a complete loss as to what to do. As I get most of my books from Gutenberg perhaps I should ignore the message?

      • Yes I had same message saying “no new items” so what happens now. Does mt kindle become obsolete after 22nd March ????

      • Amazon issued bad instructions. Make sure you are connected, press menu go to settings instead and then press the menu button again inside the settings menu. You should then see the update your Kindle option. Use this. You may have to do the update procedure a couple times over so just keep hitting that, restarting and do it til it greys out and you are fully up to date.

        • Thank you Clearing up the confusion. My Kindle Keyboard is finally updating!!

          • Hi,tried the above and my update your kindle is already greyed out,so does that mean the update as been done. I haven’t had the update message saying complete. I certainly won’t be happy if after the 22nd it’s know good to me

          • Hi, mine is Kindle 4.1.3. I followed all these steps ;

            • Plug the Kindle into its charging adaptor to ensure it has enough power to perform the update

            • Connect to Wi-Fi or use the built-in 2G/3G (see the table above for how you should connect)

            • From the home screen select Menu > Sync > Check for Items

            But at this level it keeps saying no new items.

            (• Leave your Kindle connected until the update is complete. It may restart several times, and you’ll see a notification in your Kindle Library once the update has completed)

            Can someone tell me what should I do pls ?

        • Thank you so much!! Perfect instructions–far better than Amazon’s, which were totally incorrect for my Kindle Keyboard.

        • Thankyou – very helpful!

        • YOU ARE A STAR!!!! MANY THANKS X

      • If you watch when it first engages the wireless, the update syncs automatically. It says no new items because before it’s already done its thing.

    • I think my kindle is updated. I charged it up and left it plugged in and then received a message that it was updated.

    • I received several of the emails and stupidly tried to update. Wouldn’t work, contacted Amazon. Woman talked me through it. I could see nothing to say it had worked, she assured me my Kindle was updated successfully.

      So how come it now doesn’t work? Will not download any new books.
      Thanks, Amazon- not.

  2. I wonder if this update disables the unlimited 3G web connectivity these older models had, replacing it with the unlimited-only-for-specific-sites-like-Wikipedia version newer versions get. It’s about the only thing I can immediately think of that’s so very different about them that they might want to change this late in the game. And threatening to cut off owners’ access to Amazon goods and services at all seems like an effective way to force the update.

    • “And threatening to cut off owners’ access to Amazon goods and services at all seems like an effective way to force the update.”

      Boy have you made a mountain out of a molehill. That is not what the email says.

      My read is that the device will be cut off until it is updated, not all devices on an account.

    • My Kindle 2 already has limits on 3G web connectivity. That was what depressed me the most about my K2 when I could no longer use it for google maps, texting via Google Voice or to send the occasional email.

      • Actually, I misspoke–er–mistyped. My K2 can still access the web but I keep seeing the “Basic Web is unable to make a secure connection at this time.” error message. Just assumed this was Amazon blocking my access. However, I just looked up the version of the Kindle OS I should be running to discover that I am not running the latest. I have 2.5.6 when I should be running 2.5.8. This is what I get for loaning my K2 to my mom for a couple years >_< Looks like it's time for a manual install…

    • What did you do? My aunt is getting the same message

  3. It looks like they will probably change the HTTPS certificates on theirs servers in the near future, and they need to update the certificate authority file (google: java cacerts, if you want the technical details) that the Kindle software uses to make sure it can trust Amazon’s servers. If you don’t update your device, it won’t be able to communicate with Amazon servers (after Amazon changes their server certificates) since it won’t be able to established a secure connection.

    • Yeah, a friend suggested Amazon is moving away from SHA-1 security and replacing legacy cacerts that would become obsolete if they do. So it seems the only kind of patch they’ll do to one of the older Kindles is something that literally will make them stop working if they don’t get fixed.

  4. I don’t allow my older Kindles to talk to Amazon – ever. My library is so large that if I turn on WiFi, it freezes my Kindle trying to update the library. So I leave WiFi off at all times and instead, add books manually using Calibre. And since they never talk to the wide, wide world, they don’t need some little security update.

    • This is what I’m wondering about. I use two old Kindles, and I usually add books manually so I don’t have to bother with connection issues. If I don’t need to connect, is there any value to these updates? Or are they just going to make life more difficult, like the way iTunes messes with your private music library?

  5. Makes sense. They already completed the transition to SHA-256 for the bulk of their infrastructure, so it doesn’t surprise me they want to tie up loose ends.

    I wonder if the switch will affect old releases of the Kindle app that some people use on ancient versions of Android and iOS.

  6. I got the update notice and I have one of the original Kindles. I followed the steps but my kindle would not work attached to the PC and after I removed it. my kindle will not turn on at all.

  7. There are people that do not switch on WiFi because they do not want Amazon updating their reader and screwing their rooted devices with installed hacks.
    There are even hacks to prevent Amazon updating.

    All those no-update hacks have been just obsoleted.

    I do not think that the Kindles would be disabled or something. They will just be unable to communicate with Amazon servers, because they have old security certificate. I am pretty sure you will be able to download any book manually and side-load it to the Kindle.

  8. My friend received this email, it was for a Kindle Touch.

    @Nate, note the 2013 and 2015 Paperwhite models received that update. There was not a new Paperwhite in 2014 (that is when Voyage came out).

  9. I got the update notice. I also know that around late September of last year, Amazon got notified of an exploit discovered by a jailbreaker. That exploit was fixed in the latest (5.7.2?) firmware update. The jailbreak technique itself is pretty involved, reluing on using a man-in-the-middle attack from the web browser. Certs (in part) are meant to verify a trusted server (preventing MITM). I’m just speculating here, but I’d guess that the exploit that was uncovered is this cert issue. I’m just kind of surprised that it took them four months to address it with an update.

    PS: The jailbreak itself still works on 5.6.5 firmware, but not on the new firmware (though if you do jailbreak, it survives updating).

  10. I think the reason that only few users get this e-mail is, that most readers already have the latest firmware. I downloaded the latest bin for the Kindle 4/5 (i.e. V 4.1.3) and converted it with kindletool to tar.gz. All files in this archive have the time stamp 2015/07/09. Also my Kindle was in flight mode for the last few months and it has already the latest firmware.

    I checked also the latest bins for several other models and all time stamps dated back to 2015.

    In my opinion this looks like “last call for all passengers to …”

  11. Just received notice that K4PC will require update to 1.14.1 on April 1, 2016.

  12. Who gives a crap what those bastards threaten? The bottom-line is that they want to intimidate users into giving up their jailbroken OS.

    Sorry, Bezos, I’ll stick to sideloading content on my jailbroken device rather than turning my device over to the piece of crap that you call your Kindle OS.

    • Um, actually the jailbreak will continue to work (although do make sure you are running the latest version of the jailbreak if you intend to upgrade past ~5.6.x).

      Again, the issue is only with ancient devices that have had critical security updates **for a while** — and which many users may not have installed.

      Amazon isn’t “threatening” you by telling you that your Kindle may have an outdated Certificate Authority and thus may be incapable of establishing a secure connection to Amazon’s servers.

      As Nate mentioned in the article, I have already checked the one *new* update (for the K1) and it is *very* safe.
      Any update regardless can be trivially blocked (just check out the numerous MR threads discussing it)… or you can simply trust the Kindle Developer’s Corner regulars **who provided the original jailbreak** when we say these updates do not take away your jailbreak.

      But if you really, desperately want to be paranoid, go right ahead — I can’t stop you.

  13. Just this afternoon my Kindle upgraded “spontaneously” with no permission from me. How weird is that?

  14. I followed the instructions in the email to update my Keyboard 3G w/WiFi. I assume it updated, but I’ve received no confirmation, so I really don’t know. How can I tell if the update was successful? At the bottom of the Setting pages, it says: Version: 3.4.2 (2687……).

  15. “So if you get a notice, you should update your Kindle immediately. (Better yet, why wait?)”
    I also got the warning.

    The above is bad advice.
    One should never, ever update software on anything unless it’s clear what’s changed (especially when it’s unlikely that a downgrade will be possible). It’s unacceptable that Amazon isn’t saying what is being changed, and why, and people, here and elsewhere, need to engage in lengthy speculations.

  16. @wavelet It’s pushing SHA256 SSL/TLS certificates to the device to make sure it can still talk to the Amazon servers. It is a one or two file change, depending on the OS.

    — A previous Kindle framework engineer who managed the security updates for years

    • Insider: Yes, I’ve read that in the comments here and and on another site. If that’s all it is, it’s of course harmless and completely reasonable… So why are we having to speculate and rely on insider info? Why doesn’t Amazon come out and say so? That’s what I find unacceptable.

    • I woke up to my Kindle Fire HD saying it was installing updates that would take about 10 minutes, but the screen shuts off when the progress bar gets between halfway and three-quarters of the way done. It come back on and it’s at the beginning again. It’s been doing this for about 5 hours. I’ve tried holding down the power button for 30 seconds to shut it down several times, but when I turn it back on after 10-15 minutes it does the same thing. Any suggestions on what I can do to get it back to normal?

    • And what is this we now hear:
      http://motherboard.vice.com/read/amazon-removes-device-encryption-fire-os-kindle-phones-and-tablets
      Do we lose encryption with the updated certificates?

      • The Kindle ereader’s OS and the Fire OS used in tablets are quite different. I have no idea if the Kindle OS, developed by Amazon, is encrypted since it is not public code like Android. I assume the ereaders were never encrypted.

  17. I got the notice on 17 February. I did the update today (21 February — it’s school vacation week; I’m procrastinating everything). I received a letter document saying it was successful. I keep this oldest kindle around to remind myself of how much the devices have changed since the original. And each time I use it, even for a few minutes, I am shocked once again by how much better the screens are in current e-ink kindles, how much better the interface is, etc. It’s easy to think that there are no meaningful innovations within a technology type — whether it is the codex book or the e-ink book reader — but there are tons of meaningful innovations.

  18. My Mom’s kindle (the original/ 1st version) is still updating since yesterday!! Should it take this long? She hasn’t received a notification to say the update was sucessfull. Can she still use it while it is updating?

  19. I have two Kindles. An old one and a newer one. I don’t know how to identify the models. They both have the original firmware. They are both the version that posts ads. I have never allowed them to access a WI-fi network to avoid that happening. Airplane mode is always on. That is the only way I know to stop Amazon from downloading whatever they please.

    These updates from Amazon concern me. I have no idea what they may do.

    Is there any comprehensive evaluation of the changes in the various iterations of Amazon updates?

    With the increasing difficulty in being in a location that lacks WI-Fi, I do not want an update whenever I enter one of those radio ranges.

  20. My concern: I believe I read here or somewhere else that a Kindle was updated even with airline mode on when exposed to a Wi-Fi signal. If I remember correctly, this exposes me to an update should I carry the device into range of a public (or other open) Wi-Fi radiation footprint. I am not keen on letting Amazon have their way with my device without knowing what they are doing. My only use of the devices is to let Calibre manage and load books. Nothing else. Just a handy book reader.

    I do not mind getting updates for performance or feature improvements (that do not reduce my freedom to use). In fact, I would actually want to install them. But I do not want to install any update that limits my options or privacy. Paranoia is not, in my opinion, an ineffective tool when controlling manufacturers are involved.

    I am trying to figure out what I should allow and what can cause me problems in what I want to happen. I have been trying to find a description of what the Amazon updates actually do fro ma user perspective. Should I install the various updates to the devices?

    Bottom line; should I allow Amazon to bring both of my devices to the current firmware.

    • “a Kindle was updated even with airline mode on when exposed to a Wi-Fi signal.”

      That is not correct. A Kindle can only connect to a Wifi network if that network (or one with the same name) had been previously approved. You also have to enter the network password, if there is one.

  21. The user interface is completely different. I don’t like it. I wasn’t given a choice to update – it just did it.

    • Are you referring to the new home screen?

      You can switch back to the list/shelf views if you like.

      Settings | Device Options |Personalize Your Kindle | Advanced Options | turn off Home Screen View

  22. I like the new interface. There is a minor learning curve but once past that, its fine. I’m enjoying it.

  23. wow, I absolutely do not like the fact that MY and I emphasize “MY” kindle was updated without my permission. That is sneaky and intrusive. I own the device. I should be able to choose whether or not I want an update. I do not like the new interface which only makes me want to go to a different reader. Bad move Amazon. A serious mistake intruding on a kindle that does not belong to you!

  24. My Kindle Paperwhie was recently upgraded overnight and as a result all the books that I had not purchased from Amazon were no longer accessible to read. They are in my document file but the reader will not allow them to be read. The upgrade has a program that blocks these books. kindle indicated in the information about the upgrade that: ” While this update will happen automatically, it won’t affect your library or the e-books on your device.” This is a lie.

  25. The fact that a number of people have been unable to read/access books that they did not get from Amazon is more then enough reason for me to make sure that my DX never gets updated. I have never bought a book from Amazon and have no intention of doing so.

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