Lessons from a lost Kindle

Two days ago I left my Kindle 3G somewhere – probably in the pub or or the train – and of course it is most likely now gone for good. 

We hear a lot about IT consumerisation, and the biggest issue with the Kindle, apart from the loss of the actual device, is that it is connected to a credit card thanks Amazon’s One-Click purchase feature. So someone finding my Kindle, would instantly be able to start buying ebooks on my credit card.
Fortunately, Amazon provides two ways to prevent this. First, through the Manage your Kindle portal, it is possible to deregister the device. Second, by calling Amazon (it’s 08445456508 in the UK), Amazon can block the device completely, stopping it from being reregisterd under a different account. Amazon customer service then sends a confirmation email:
Hello xxxx,

I’m sorry to hear that your Kindle was lost. I’ve deregistered this Kindle from your account and noted this in our systems so that it can’t be registered by another person. 

Your Kindle’s Serial Number is: xxxxxxxxxx. If you find your Kindle, please contact us again and we can reinstate your registration.

I have now downloaded the Kindle app from the Android Marketplace – and while the screen is rubbish compared to E.Ink on the Kindle, I have full access to my library of books – which is quite amazing really.
So here’s the lesson: the Kindle is only valuable because of the books (ie content)  that are installed. Once the Kindle is deregistered and blocked, the hardware is actually worthless (good luck to any hacker willing to take it apart and install a new OS). The Kindle is essentially a one application thin client that connects wirelessly to the Amazon bookstore.People will inevitable ask why such devices exist because the new iPad can do everything. But it just goes to show how a simple operating environment can be locked down and secured, reducing data theft should the device be lost or stolen.

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