In case you hadn’t heard, Amazon’s Kindle Fire is going to come with its very own proprietary browser, Amazon Silk. Silk does something that other browsers do not in that it uses the processing power of Amazon’s formidable cloud network to help with some of the heavy lifting when it comes to rendering web pages.
Great, right? Well yes and no, it takes the strain off the processor, but it runs all of that browsing information through the cloud – which is something of a privacy concern.
Sophos senior security adviser Chester Wisniewski explains:
All web connections from your tablet will connect directly to Amazon, rather than the destination web page. Amazon will keep this connection between your Kindle Fire and EC2 open indefinitely while you are actively surfing, reducing the latency and connection times to retrieve web pages… Hopefully you can start to see the problem here. All of your web surfing habits will transit Amazon’s cloud.
Amazon has said that browsing history is only retained for 30 days and that the information that passes through its cloud is not tied to any users – and you know what? I believe them. I see how this could be a potential security risk, I see that Amazon may use some of the data for commercial purposes but I don’t see them going to the trouble of compiling a list of individual user browsing habits. It would take a lot of time, it would cost a lot of money and it would achieve absolutely nothing. Not to mention the fact that a good deal of everyone’s web activity goes through the cloud already thanks to Amazon Cloudfront and other Amazon Web Services. It is pretty hard to keep your web browsing habits totally anonymous and if you use Google or Facebook then you have just as much to worry about. Me, I’ll take the speed boost and the privacy risk – but then I don’t really do anything that is that secret.