This morning I came across a link to an old article by a Norton researcher. Way back in 2009, when the Kindle was still new and relatively uncommon, Michelle V. Rafter pondered the threats a Kindle might face, beit device theft, identity theft, or viruses.
If that last option sounds silly in 2014, just remember that you're looking at it with 20/20 hindsight. In 2009 it wasn't such a crazy idea:
When the first Kindle appeared in 2007, Jesse Vincent was curious but not convinced the e-book reader with the 6-inch black-and-white screen was worth the hefty price tag. Two years later, Amazon introduced a skinnier Kindle 2 with longer batter life, faster page refreshes and room for 1,500 books. Vincent stopped resisting. “It was appealing,” the Somerville, Mass., software developer says.
E-readers use the 3G wireless network that cell phones use, and stripped down Web browsers to connect over the Internet to e-book stores. Some devices also let you connect to a laptop or desktop computer to upload or download files. As a result, it’s conceivable an e-reader could inadvertently catch a virus or worm from an email message, file or Web page. ... The reason is that hackers normally write viruses to target Windows-based computers because so many people use them, and since the number of people using Kindles and other e-readers is tiny by comparison, attacking these devices may not be as attractive right now to hackers, he says.
In case you're interested, the Jesse Vincent mentioned in the excerpt is that same developer who ported calibre to the Kindle 2 in 2009 (he called it Savory).
It's amazing how much things have changed, isn't it?
Just like there was a time that many insisted that ebooks could never supplant paper books in any way, 4 years ago people worried about viruses hurting your Kindle or other ebook reader.
So far as I know that has never happened. It's not just that I have never read about a virus being identified; I've never even read about a security researcher trying it just to see if it were possible, so the concerns about the issue were probably misplaced.
Four out of five experts agree that unprotected ebook reading on ebook readers is perfectly safe. And that's good news for all of us; it means we can stop using the Kindle condoms:
P.S. Reading on smartphones and tablets, well, that's another matter. I'm sure it comes as no surprise that these more general purpose mobile gadgets are easy targets for viruses, trojans, and other malware.
image via Gothick.org.uk