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Kindle Fire and Nook Upgrades Kill Root Access 275

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the bug-fixes-are-nice dept.
jfruhlinger writes "The Kindle Fire and Barnes and Noble Nook tablets are similar enough and close enough together in price that they ought to be fighting market share and one-upping each other in terms of features they offer users. But the latest OS upgrades to both gadgets claims to be an 'upgrade' while actually taking functionality away: both remove the ability to root the device." A more balanced way of looking at it is that the updates fix known local privilege escalation vulnerabilities. This might be more of an issue for people wanting to hack on the Nook Tablet: its bootloader is confirmed locked, but reports lean toward the Kindle Fire having an unlocked bootloader letting anyone flash their own software without needing to gain root first.
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Kindle Fire and Nook Upgrades Kill Root Access

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  • Good (Score:3, Insightful)

    by A12m0v (1315511) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @11:22AM (#38448780) Journal

    Root access was a security risk. I'm glad Amazon fixed that.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It didn't come with root access, so they aren't fixing a security risk. They are just removing the ability for some people to voluntarily accept the risk.

      • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@@@cornell...edu> on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @11:59AM (#38449354) Homepage

        Actually, a privilege escalation exploit IS a security risk.

        The unlocked bootloader means that on the Fire, this is at most a small speedbump in the process of modifying a device. However this prevents malware from gaining privilege escalation. (Most of the easiest Android rooting techniques like psneuter and rageagainstthecage relied on exploits that could and WERE also used by malware such as Droid Dream.)

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Viol8 (599362)

          And how would this magic malware manage to reflash the boot loader in the first place since it requires a hard reset and a 2nd device plugged into the USB port to do it?

          • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

            by nedlohs (1335013) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @12:18PM (#38449614)

            That's the point.

            That isn't what was removed. What was removed was a security flaw that let a non-root app running on the device get root priveledges.

            • by BagOBones (574735)

              Voil8s point was the the exploit was not a remote one and required local physical access.

              The difference between lets say the on the iPhone jailbreakme (high risk remote website remote exploit) and redsnow (difficult local direct access exploit).

              However once rooted and code signing is dissabled you are right nedlohs the devices are less secure.

    • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SJHillman (1966756) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @11:28AM (#38448872)
      Sort of like being able to open the hood on your car is a security risk.
      • Re:Good (Score:4, Funny)

        by X0563511 (793323) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @11:31AM (#38448918) Homepage Journal

        It is. Most cars have the hood release inside the (presumably) locked cabin... and are hooked up to an alarm system.

        I agree with your sentiment; I just could not resist shooting at your analogy!

        • But in this analogy, you'd be allowed inside the cabin because it's the expected and normal usage of the car - you don't generally change/upgrade things from within the cabin beyond those the manufacturer/dealer approves (IE: swapping out a radio is pretty simple on most cars and doesn't usually void warranties). To "lock the cabin" of a tablet would be like the update changing the password/PIN and not letting the user in at all.
        • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

          by tepples (727027) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [selppet]> on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @11:37AM (#38449018) Homepage Journal
          Then let's roll with the analogy: why don't more Android devices have a legitimate hood release of sorts?
          • by X0563511 (793323)

            I'd like to think innocent shortages of clues. Emphasis on like.

        • by Moryath (553296)

          And yet if the car companies removed your hood release and required a special key or tool only available at the dealerships, you'd be screaming bloody murder and so would the mechanic's unions with good reason - in fact, several times there were class action lawsuits against GM, Ford, and Toyota due to their refusal to sell the appropriate adapters and codebooks necessary to troubleshoot or reset "check engine lights" and computer warnings to the 3rd-party mechanic shops.

          Imagine if the car companies wanted

      • The issue is if someone opens the hood in their car and says replaces their oil with anti-freeze or does something stupid, the automotive industry is mature enough to tell the user that what they did was wrong and will cost them an arm and a leg to get it fixed. And the end user will not get too much sympathy on the internet for doing such a stupid thing. However for these consumer devices if someone who really doesn't know what they are doing roots their device then does something stupid, they will post
        • by Smallpond (221300)

          The reason they are preventing you from rooting has nothing to do with whether you do something stupid to the device and post nasty comments on the net. As you point out, nobody cares what you do to a laptop or desktop. The only reason they want to prevent root access is so their content isn't copied. They make all of their money selling books, apps, etc. This is why the Microsoft eBook Reader app failed. No publisher wants to put their content on a PC, they will only put it on a closed device.

    • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @11:34AM (#38448956)

      Yeah, seriously. When you have a security flaw that allows root privilege escalation you don't just decide not to fix that because the homebrewer's were using it as a convenient way to get access to the machine. If this was on an (open) desktop platform, such a flaw wouldn't really be tolerated for long.

      It's like when people are upset that an exploit in a game was fixed that people were using to win / get free stuf / etc, yet they don't get upset when a bug is fixed that was actually preventing them from completing a game.

      • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

        by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @11:44AM (#38449122)

        If this was on an (open) desktop platform, such a flaw wouldn't really be tolerated for long.

        Which is why the user should simply be given root access to begin with. Instead of having to use privilege escalation attacks, users should just be able to hit a button or flip a switch to enable root access for themselves. Quick, easy, and perhaps voiding the warranty (but I think anyone who wants root access is willing to have no warranty).

        Why is this so hard?

        • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

          by mlts (1038732) * on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @11:59AM (#38449352)

          Bingo. One can just look at the Nexus line of devices and the "fastboot oem unlock" command and the warning given as the right way to go about doing this. This is enough of a hurdle to keep Joe Sixpack from doing it so he can see the dancing bunnies, but allows people who are willing to trash their device (and not bother calling hardware support) to do what they feel free to.

    • Re:Good (Score:5, Interesting)

      by rufty_tufty (888596) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @11:53AM (#38449232) Homepage

      Welcome to the real world, the property you own isn't yours.
      You're not buying a product any more you're buying a service. You can't lend others your books (look in the copyright notice at the front if you doubt me) You can't

      It is not your music, it is licensed from those who own it.
      Oh you're a band and think you own your music? Nope, it belongs to your record label.
      Oh you're not signed to a record label? Since 7 notes is enough to copyright a riff then that gives you just over 5000 original works of music so there is no original works anymore. You cannot produce your own works of art anymore.

      Okay maybe you have an idea for a cool new machine, nope that's almost certainly covered by someone else's vague patent. Your ideas aren't yours.

      Okay what about your house, I bet it's mortgaged so the bank owns it.
      Oh, you own your house outright, fine but who enforces it? When someone tries to take it from you it's a government giving you a licence to live there as long as you pay property taxes.

      Actually you know what I started writing this as a parody post and now I'm not sure anymore, exactly what do we own anyway? What has anyone ever owned? Did those 200 years ago have more property rights than we currently have?
      Moving forwards should we have more property rights? Should I be allowed to sell you a device that is designed to break, or at least rely on updates to keep doing the same job? Machinery has always worn out, selling with a contract that requires a service contract has always been legal (AFAIK) so why are we annoyed about this now?

      • by paiute (550198)

        What has anyone ever owned? Did those 200 years ago have more property rights than we currently have?

        Check with the Massachusett. See how that worked out for them.

      • by KhabaLox (1906148)

        You can't lend others your books (look in the copyright notice at the front if you doubt me)

        "No part of this book shall be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without written permission from the publisher."

        "transmitted by any means.... mechanical"

        How do I get it home from the store? Did Amazon violate the copyright when they shipped it to me?

        • How do I get it home from the store?

          Once a copyright owner has authorized the making and distribution of a particular product embodying a copyrighted work or patented invention within the United States, the exclusive distribution right is considered "exhausted", and further distribution of the same product within the United States is not an infringement of copyright. For copyrights, see 17 USC 109; for patents, see Keeler v. Standard Folding Bed Co., 157 U.S. 659, 666–67 (1895). The only exception for copyrighted works is when a for-pro

        • How do I get it home from the store? Did Amazon violate the copyright when they shipped it to me?

          Erm, did you read, what you copy/pasted?

          without written permission from the publisher."

          I would assume Amazon has that written permission ... or?

          • by KhabaLox (1906148)

            You think every bookstore that mails or delivers books has written agreements with every publisher? Amazon was just an example; the logic applies to anyone who mechanically transmits* a work.

            *I think the other two child posts are more to the point. 1) Mechanical Transmission doesn't mean physically shipping/giving/lending (see: libraries). 2) Copyright law is more nuanced than the boilerplate on a book's title page.

        • by xigxag (167441)

          That's not what mechanical transmission means. It means typing the content of the book out yourself.

      • by tepples (727027)

        Oh, you own your house outright, fine but who enforces it?

        That's the problem for any form of property. As John Philpot Curran (not Jefferson, as commonly thought [wikiquote.org]) pointed out, the price of liberty "is eternal vigilance."

        Should I be allowed to sell you a device that is designed to break, or at least rely on updates to keep doing the same job?

        As long as you make this clear in advance. The problem comes when advertising does not mention restrictions on a device or buries them in a page of legalese. For example, where on a video game console's box does the manufacturer mention the restrictions on who qualifies to develop games for the platform?

        • by toriver (11308)

          But pretending you can own something of God's creation is clearly satanism...

    • by adisakp (705706)

      Root access was a security risk. I'm glad Amazon fixed that.

      If it's Windoze, an unfixed privilege escalation exploit leads to Slashdotters calling Microsoft out as a shoddy company. When Amazon fixes the same type of security issue, they are accused of crushing homebrew development. Let's face it... security bugs should be fixed.

      Homebrew is only related in that it's using security flaws to root the device. If Amazon wants to support homebrew, they should do it in a way that doesn't compromise the current OS. Not leaving security bugs where anyone can take over

  • I'm just annoyed that they have not implemented all of Gingerbread. They claim they have Android 2.3.4 on kernel 2.6.37 and yet they don't support the ADK (accessory development kit). It's just a couple of already written classes in the kernel, a framework jar, and a permissions file. It would take an hour to implement and 3 to test. Hook us up Amazon! Then I wouldn't even want to root the thing.

    • by X0563511 (793323)

      That's not what ADK means. ADK is the Android Development Kit.

    • The linux kernel is written in C, not C++ so how did they manage that?

  • Get those that cheap "shanzai" tablets from China. They come with pretty good hardware and quite a few already have ICS firmware released. Best of all, you need not worry about not being able to root the tablet.
    • Get those that cheap "shanzai" tablets from China.

      Are they certified by Google? If not, then what market do they come with?

      They come with pretty good hardware

      Does "pretty good hardware" include a capacitive digitizer so that 1. I can run applications that require Android Market, and 2. I don't have to either borrow my DS's stylus or press so hard I feel like I'm running the risk of breaking it?

      • 1. I can run applications that require Android Market,

        I don't know how I ended up typing that and missing it on preview. I meant "1. I can run applications that require multitouch,"

      • by dmesg0 (1342071)

        Are they certified by Google? If not, then what market do they come with?

        Almost all are not, but there are some exceptions, e.g. MIPS-based Ainol Novo 7 is Google certified (running ICS) and costs around 100$

        Does "pretty good hardware" include a capacitive digitizer so that 1. I can run applications that require Android Market, and 2. I don't have to either borrow my DS's stylus or press so hard I feel like I'm running the risk of breaking it?

        Yes, most 100$+ tablets are using capacitive 5-point multitouch screens. Their resolution is usually quite low though, but it's going to change soon - there are several new 7" tablets with 1024x600 resolution.

        • by tepples (727027)

          Almost all are not

          And thus useless for check depositing. Chase Bank's deposit app for Android is exclusive to Android Market.

          MIPS-based Ainol Novo 7 is Google certified

          So how do I convince the publisher of an application that uses the NDK to offer a MIPS version of the same application? I haven't yet had a chance to try a MIPS tablet for myself, but I'm under the impression that the view of Android Market on such a tablet would be as barren as, say, the AppsLib that comes on eighth-generation Archos devices because most apps using the NDK are exclusive to ARM and th

          • by dmesg0 (1342071) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @01:38PM (#38450668)

            And thus useless for check depositing. Chase Bank's deposit app for Android is exclusive to Android Market.

            A few minutes on slatedroid, half an hour of effort and your favorite Chinese tablet is running the full market. And please don't tell me time is money, your mere presence here proves otherwise.

            So how do I convince the publisher of an application that uses the NDK to offer a MIPS version of the same application? I haven't yet had a chance to try a MIPS tablet for myself, but I'm under the impression that the view of Android Market on such a tablet would be as barren as, say, the AppsLib that comes on eighth-generation Archos devices because most apps using the NDK are exclusive to ARM and thus hidden.

            I never recommended buying a MIPS tablet, just answered your certification question. Though I guess for basic uses like web browsing, it should be fine.

            (Aside: Has my "trying to find the best affordable Android tablet" become "whining" yet? Should I stop now?)

            I would say yes. Though it looks to me like you are trying to convince yourself not to grab one of these 100$ tablets. Good luck with that, it's not easy. I failed 3 times :)

    • by Microlith (54737)

      And then ask the shanzai tablet manufacturers for the source code, and get a "only if you give us $6000" bullshit response.

  • Mmmm, movies (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SJHillman (1966756) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @11:34AM (#38448954)
    Since the last update to the Nook Color let me watch Netflix (it works really well, although subtitles could be slightly larger) and fixed a few oversights like not being able to read books in landscape mode, I really don't have a reason to root it anymore. It may just be my perception, but overall performance seems to have improved slightly as well. Does anyone know if this affects dual-booting the Nook Color off of a microSD card?
    • by ajlitt (19055)

      It will always attempt to boot from microSD first. The boot order is hardwired on the board.

    • Re:Mmmm, movies (Score:5, Informative)

      by DdJ (10790) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @01:05PM (#38450220) Homepage Journal

      This does not impact the Nook Color in any significant way.

      Both the Nook Color and Nook Tablet will try to boot off microSD first if they can. That's not part of the OS. However, the Nook Tablet requires a signed kernel to boot, and the Nook Color does not. So, this change results in a significant loss of hackability for the Nook Tablet, since you had to "jailbreak" it in some sense to do anything. It does not result in a significant loss of hackability for the older Nook Color, since you can still just write an unsigned kernel to a microSD card and you're off and running.

      Disclaimer: this is my understanding from scouring the xda-dev forums for details and from hacking my own Nook Color. I've confirmed that 1.4.1 on the Nook Color does close the sideloading "hole", and that a 1.4.1 Nook Color will still boot stuff like CM7.1 from microSD card. The rest of it, I have not personally verified myself, but am summarizing my understanding from reading experts talking about it all.

  • Follow the money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MonsterTrimble (1205334) <monstertrimble AT hotmail DOT com> on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @11:40AM (#38449056)
    First off, is anyone surprised? As a business, I'm making sure:
    1) That people don't try to return the product when they screw it up doing something that the product wasn't intended to do (and it costs me money)
    2) That I eliminate a potential attack vector for malware which would lead to decreased sales and increased returns (which costs me money)
    3) That people are locked into using my products (which makes me money)

    This is all about the money people. This isn't about trying to screw over the 0.1% of people who buy the tablet - It's about maximizing the profits. And let's be realistic here - they will be recracked in short order.

    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @11:48AM (#38449168)

      That people don't try to return the product when they screw it up doing something that the product wasn't intended to do

      It is a computer, not a hammer. Since when do we declare that a computer is "not intended" to do something in software? If people were complaining that their Nook could not solve the Post correspondence problem, you would have a point.

      • Also, I do not mean to come off as rude or angry, but phrases like "the computer is not supposed to be used for this software" are problematic.
      • That people don't try to return the product when they screw it up doing something that the product wasn't intended to do

        It is a computer, not a hammer. Since when do we declare that a computer is "not intended" to do something in software? If people were complaining that their Nook could not solve the Post correspondence problem, you would have a point.

        Neither company advertises there reader as anything but a reader designed to run their software. Just because it was capable of being rooted doesn't mean they have to continue to allow it to be rooted or that they are taking anything away. You are free to buy someone else's product or not upgrade yours and live with the capabilities and limitations of the current setup.

        You are still also free to try to root the device or otherwise modify it - but neither company has any obligation to make it easy to do that

        • you're on your own if [the ability to root your computer] goes away.

          It did not "go away," it was deliberately disabled by these companies. It is a computer, nothing less, and we have every reason to expect the ability to run any software we want on our computers.

          • by bws111 (1216812)

            They modified their software so it only does things they want it to. They did not modify the so-called computer. If you want to pretend a Kindle is a general-purpose computer, then treat it like one. Only load your own software and software you trust. You have zero reasonable expectation that the software provided by Amazon (or anyone else) will do or be usable for anything other than what they say.

          • by toriver (11308)

            Then don't install the update that removes the option. After all it's your hardware. But Amazon's and B&N's services.

            Nothing prevents you from running whatever you want on it, you just need to accept that they have no obligation to make it easy to use it in a different manner than they prefer.

        • by KhabaLox (1906148)

          Neither company advertises there reader as anything but a reader designed to run their software.

          Slight quibble - I think Amazon positions the Fire as more than just a reader. It's definitely a tablet.

          • by hawguy (1600213)

            Neither company advertises there reader as anything but a reader designed to run their software.

            Slight quibble - I think Amazon positions the Fire as more than just a reader. It's definitely a tablet.

            I think they position it as a reader that has access to a wide variety of Amazon content. They don't say it's a general purpose tablet:

            kindlefire
            Web, movies, apps, games, reading and more

            19 million movies, TV shows, songs, magazines, and books
            Thousands of popular apps and games, including Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora, and more
            Ultra-fast web browsing - Amazon Silk
            Free cloud storage for all your Amazon content
            Vibrant color touchscreen with extra-wide viewing angle - same as an iPad
            Fast, powerful dual-core processor
            Favorite children's books, graphic novels, and magazines in rich color

            The only time they even mention Android is:

            The Kindle Fire is a 7-inch tablet that links seamlessly with Amazon's impressive collection of
            digital music, video, magazine, and book services in one easy-to-use package. It boasts a great
            Web browser, and its curated Android app store includes most of the big must-have apps
            (such as Netflix, Pandora, and Hulu)

            and

            Additional email apps are available in our Amazon Appstore for Android.

      • by LWATCDR (28044)

        Everything just about is a computer or has a computer in it.
        That is where things get fuzzy. Should you have the ability to change the software on all of them. Take cars for example. They have lots of computers. Lots of people will reprogram the ECM but what about the CPU that controls the anitlock brakes?
        I am all for the hacking of devices but I can see the manufactures point of view. They made a devices that does xyz and sells it as doing xyz. They never told you that you could root it.
        At least the Fire a

        • Should you have the ability to change the software on all of them

          Yes.

          Lots of people will reprogram the ECM but what about the CPU that controls the anitlock brakes?

          As long as they do not make their vehicle unsafe for the road, why would that be a problem? We require cars to pass inspection for this reason. Why should someone be forbidden from hacking their brakes?

          • by LWATCDR (28044)

            Allow or make it easy?
            The point is that Amazon and BN sold these devices as being abile to do certain things. As long as they do those things they are keeping their side of the bargain.

          • by KhabaLox (1906148)

            Why should someone be forbidden from hacking their brakes?

            Why should a company be forced to make it easy for someone to hack their brakes?

            But more to the point, you aren't forbidden from hacking your brakes/tablet. I mean, was a law passed that expressly forbids the hacking of tablets and other hardware you own? Like someone said earlier, this is the company making a decision about their product because of how it affects their bottom line. Amazon isn't selling Fires at a loss so hackers can get a piece of cheap hardware to do whatever they want with it. They a

            • There is no legal or ethical justification to force [Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo] to use an open game format.

              If you don't agree with the restrictions on a Nook Tablet, you can always buy an Archos 80 G9 instead. But there are no competing video game console makers that use open formats. So if Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo conspire to forbid a particular game from appearing on any console, why isn't that predatory refusal to deal [ftc.gov]?

      • It is a computer, not a hammer. Since when do we declare that a computer is "not intended" to do something in software?

        Well at least since console manufacturers started selling consoles at no-profit or even a loss, in order to make profit on game licenses. And the DMCA provides them with legal backing for that model.

        Amazon is using the same model. They are supplying a no-profit tablet in order to make money on media consumed.

        If you want a truly open device, you should expect to pay more money for it.

    • by tepples (727027) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [selppet]> on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @11:56AM (#38449290) Homepage Journal

      That people don't try to return the product when they screw it up doing something that the product wasn't intended to do (and it costs me money)

      The proper way to fix this isn't to block all rooting but to provide a working recovery means to reset the operating system to factory state, restore applications from the market, and restore the user's data from automatic backup. Then figure out a way to segregate the user's data so that it doesn't have to be restored as often; the "/sdcard" partition in some Android devices has worked well for this.

      That I eliminate a potential attack vector for malware

      You can't neutralize malware without first defining malware. This involves enumerating the possible bad things that malicious software can do. Does this list of bad things [laptop.org] miss anything?

      • by hawguy (1600213)

        That people don't try to return the product when they screw it up doing something that the product wasn't intended to do (and it costs me money)

        The proper way to fix this isn't to block all rooting but to provide a working recovery means to reset the operating system to factory state, restore applications from the market, and restore the user's data from automatic backup. Then figure out a way to segregate the user's data so that it doesn't have to be restored as often; the "/sdcard" partition in some Android devices has worked well for this.

        If you want to start a company to create a hobbyist tablet that is safe for rooting and experimentation, you should go ahead. But don't expect Amazon (or B&N) to sell a tablet designed to sell their own content while at the same time supporting your desire to run a different operating system on it.

        They are selling it at close to the manufacturing cost (or possibly below cost) because they are counting on it to bring in revenue. B&N doesn't want you rooting it and installing the Kindle App, or vice-v

  • If you want an eInk reader, then fine get a dedicated eReader. Otherwise get an Adroid tablet, not an LCD eReader.

    A year ago, getting something that you could convert to a decent $250 Android tablet was a BFD. Today, not so much.

    There were all kinds of great Black Friday deals: Acer Iconia for $200 and so on. You can still get a Vizio 8 at Costco for $189, or a Lenovo Idiapad A1 at Amazon for $199.

    Get a real tablet and you are not vendor-locked. You can read any format you want, without excessive hacking. P

    • by DavidTC (10147)

      I have no idea what the hell the point of 'color' ereaders are.

      It's like we live in a world where there are two kinds of vehicles. Everyone either drives a enclosed electric golf cart, which is a good pollution-less short-range cheap vehicle, or a gas-powered car, which is more expensive but has a 300 mile range and is much faster and can carry more.

      And then vendors inexplicably start selling cars as 'gas powered golf cars', in the golf cart market. They've crippled these cars so they only have a range of

  • Right to Read (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mounthood (993037) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @12:02PM (#38449416)

    In-case anyone hasn't read the Richard Stallman story: http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/right-to-read.html [gnu.org]

    From the authors notes:

    One of the ideas in the story was not proposed in reality until 2002. This is the idea that the FBI and Microsoft will keep the root passwords for your personal computers, and not let you have them.

    The proponents of this scheme have given it names such as “trusted computing” and “Palladium”. We call it “treacherous computing” ...

    The 1997 prediction, proposed in 2002, is reality in 2011. The big surprise is that the implementation isn't a technical DRM/TC scheme, but a fundamental change in corporations retaining ownership and control of items after they've been sold. Who could have predicted that?

    • Damn, just lost my mod points. Mod parent UP!
    • by abigsmurf (919188)
      That would be prophetic... if it wasn't for the fact that DVD players at that time already had private keys kept away from their owners and that the current generation of games consoles at that time were also locked down.

      Trusted Computing? Despite people like him getting hysterical about it, it still remains a feature designed for businesses who can turn it on if they wish to have the added security it provides, not something ever designed for consumer use.

      Slow on one prediction, incorrect on another.
  • by cdrguru (88047) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @12:45PM (#38449986) Homepage

    There are a number of exposure vectors for stuff like this. Certainly the average user does not want something that they buy/download to gain additional privileges and do unexpected things. Anything that makes that less likely is going to be required.

    I believe these devices are WiFi only and do not have a great deal of radio power, but you can believe anything with a cell radio in it is going to be locked down as tightly as necessary to absolutely prevent changing radio parameters. The first hacker that gets into a cell radio and shows the world how they can disrupt cell communications in their corner of the world will prove the need for this kind of lockdown beyond any doubt. But I don't see how this would apply to these devices.

    Certainly both devices are sold either at a loss or at a very, very thin margin with the expectation that they will be used to buy stuff from the parent company and mostly the parent company. Overall, Amazon has been quite generous with the Kindle line - supporting the 3G wireless access for web browsing, email reading, etc. Yes, you can download non-Amazon books through the Amazon-supported wireless access. I suspect with the Fire the capabilities are there to access free and paid content outside of Amazon, but the Amazon stuff is easier to get to. I have no idea what sort of capabilities the Nook has, but I am guessing both have NetFlix access just as an example. So the devices aren't really "owned" by their parent but the expectation that there will be future profits affect the price of the devices. Similar devices are normally priced a bit higher - as much as 50%.

    I do not think the parent "subsidy" is the reason for the lockdown as to the average consumer they are no more locked down now than before. If you can still pay NetFlix and watch movies on the device, then it isn't locked to only Amazon or B&N content.

    I think the only explanation that is reasonable is the absolute very last thing they want is any sort of downloaded software making its way onto one of these devices and taking it over. Anything that prevents that or makes it less likely is going get pushed out to the user community. Anyone criticizing this doesn't understand the risks or the incredible backlash that would follow from an exploit on one of these devices.

    • by Microlith (54737)

      Lockdown is fine, but when the lockdown puts the owner of the device in jail then it's crossing the line.

      you can believe anything with a cell radio in it is going to be locked down as tightly as necessary to absolutely prevent changing radio parameters.

      Baseband radios tend to be locked down yes. But there's no need for the application processor environment (android, etc.) does not need to be locked down beyond necessary security features. Well, no need beyond pro-corporate BS and control.

      The first hacker th

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