Amazon will soon launch Silk, a proprietary web browser to go along with its new Kindle Fire tablet. However, the technology community is already abuzz with privacy concerns related to the latest Amazon innovation.
This week, Internet security experts dedicated much of their attention to how the new Facebook updates would affect consumer privacy. But attention has quickly shifted toward another technology titan as Amazon debuted its own tablet to compete with the dominant Apple iPad.
According to CNET analyst Stephen Shankland, Amazon's mobile browsing strategy is focused on boosting speed and extending battery life. But in the rush to satisfy performance objectives, the company may have overlooked crucial data privacy issues. By filtering traffic through their Elastic Compute Cloud service, network managers will likely have access to sensitive consumer information.
"What this means is that Amazon will capture and control every web transaction performed by Fire users," suggested Apple employee Chris Espinosa in his personal blog. "Every page [users] see, every link they follow, every click they make, every ad they see is going to be intermediated by one of the largest server farms on the planet."
In response to mounting skepticism, Amazon has since released portions of its Silk privacy guidelines to a number of news outlets.
Company officials have insisted that all browsing data is collected anonymously and no personally identifiable information is logged on the servers. Users can also opt to use the browser in "off-cloud" mode, circumventing the Amazon servers but likely inhibiting performance.
Amazon representatives also informed one security expert that they will "establish a secure connection from the cloud to the site owner for page requests of sites using SSL." This practice would suggest that the company could keep a log of communications for online banking sessions and private email. Not only could this data be compromised by a targeted attack, it could also be called upon via court order.
With all of that said, Amazon's debut in the tablet market may be coming at a steep price. According to Shankland, Silk does offer the potential to dramatically improve mobile browsing speeds. If ultimately successful, it could present the stiffest opposition yet to Apple's market dominance. But it may also be adding fuel to growing discontent with cloud security.
If early setback are overcome and the Amazon Fire starts making its way into the business community, enterprise IT managers may have a new source of concern. Mobile device use in the workplace has already provided policy challenges, but in the case of Silk it appears likely to present unique technical complexities and potential vulnerabilities.
Cloud Security News from SimplySecurity.com by Trend Micro