Simple Mitigation Tips For Securing Android E-Readers
Android e-readers are not taking any headlines when manufacturers are announcing their products. However, the e-ink based Android tablets are still selling like hotcakes, given it provides more flexibility than the similarly priced Amazon Kindle e-readers. Like the latter, no matter what type of book you open, the text is rendered against an old type of paper called sepia. There is an option under the setting menu, and you can add different gradation backgrounds such as wood, leather, solid color and so on. Reading on white background may be stressful for some, and Android e-readers provide the ability to change the background color of a book to the color that the user prefers. Not only can users change the background, but they can also change the color of text, hyperlinks, and so on.
If users like fonts, line spacing, alignment, and control of margins, they will love Android e-readers. There are many options to change all these features, Android always has the edge over kindle when it comes to customization. It’s good to customize the settings that they apply to whatever book the user opens next. Page turning speeds are fast, impressive, and users can read in both horizontal and vertical modes (ie, horizontal and vertical). The direction is locked by default but can be canceled immediately in the settings menu. The only thing that potentially may annoy users is the whole page turning experience, a strange line that turns the screen off every time users turn a page. It’s not just a screen refresh, but page feed takes a bit more time than the behavior of the Amazon Kindle. As users send pages, gestures, and swipe, these lines will follow and fill the page.
But unlike the Kindle e-readers, which provides basic e-ink reading capability, Android e-readers are full-time Android tablets but with an e-ink screen. That means all the vulnerabilities of a regular Android device affects the Android e-readers, in reciprocity, the feature that keeps Android secure such as the built-in antimalware, Google Play Protect is also installed in the Android e-reader device. The only weak part of Android e-readers is they are considered as legacy devices, that means it only comes with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, with the latest version rocking Android 6.0 Marshmallow which was released three years ago.
Android e-readers are no longer occupying store shelves, and usually can only be bought from online stores. As Android 4.x and 6.x are considered old versions of Android, and no longer receives patches from Google, a heightened level of security awareness is required to continue the safe usage of the device.
Here are some of our recommendations:
Only associate your Google Account if you need to access the Google Play Store
That means the Google Account does not need to be saved on the device. Associate the Google account only if a new app needs to be downloaded from the Play Store. That will help preserve the security and privacy of the Google account in the event the e-reader captures malware. In an infected Android device, the associated Google Account is at risk of getting used for nefarious purposes. So better not have the account associated with the device if there are no new apps that need to be installed.
Turn-off Bluetooth component if not used
Keep the device isolated, without access to Bluetooth, means there is no chance from a 3rd party to send files to the e-reader.
Only use legitimate apps (never sideload)
Apps should only be downloaded from the official source, the Google Play Store. This way, the Google Play Protect will kick-in and scan the apps first before installation.
See if using a full Android tablet or phone will be a better experience
Evaluate if you really need to continue using the e-reader, it is using a very old Android version which is considered as not safe for typical daily usage when connected online. Replace the device with a regular tablet or phone, if not keep it offline instead of being visible in the public Internet.
Julia Sowells950 Posts
Julia Sowells has been a technology and security professional. For a decade of experience in technology, she has worked on dozens of large-scale enterprise security projects, and even writing technical articles and has worked as a technical editor for Rural Press Magazine. She now lives and works in New York, where she maintains her own consulting firm with her role as security consultant while continuing to write for Hacker Combat in her limited spare time.