Kindle’s Four-Year Kindle Security Update Cut-Off Isn’t So Bad

Don’t worry—you can keep reading without worrying

Key Takeaways

  • Amazon will now only provide four years of security updates for Kindles.
  • The countdown starts when a device is discontinued.
  • It’s pretty easy—if inconvenient—to keep yourself safe.
A Kindle e-reader sitting on a table top with a cup of coffee and an iphone nearby.

felipepelaquim / Unsplash

You’ll keep using your Kindle longer than any other gadget, but now Amazon will only keep it secure for four years. 

We’re used to getting new features with software updates, but just as important are security updates, especially as most of our devices now have a semi-permanent connection to the internet. Unfortunately, Amazon has announced that it will only offer Kindle security updates for four years after the product is discontinued—although it may still add new features after this time.

"It’s not right for Amazon to stop providing security updates, but it’s a tactic used by all the big tech players to try to force customers to replace their devices. While buying a new device every few years used to be the norm because the updated models were truly feature-packed upgrades, today’s devices are lasting longer as updates are no longer as drastic, but rather tweaks to power, battery life, and sometimes the display." Lundin Matthews, reader, and founder of IT company AdminRemix, told Lifewire via email. 

Does It Really Matter?

A Kindle might not seem worth the bother, security-wise. It’s just ebooks, after all, right?

We all set passcodes on our phones, tablets, and laptops, but who uses a password for their Kindle? But the Kindle is logged into your Amazon account, which may be one of the most important accounts you use. If you lose your Kindle, and someone picks it up, they might buy a bunch of expensive books, but that’s about it. 

Someone reading a Kindle ebook on public transportation.

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But if the software security lapses, leaving millions of Kindles vulnerable, it could be a lot worse. For example, say a hacker develops or discovers an exploit for an older Kindle model. The result could be anything, up to and including stealing your account details.

That’s a definite worst-case scenario and perhaps unlikely to happen. And even in this case, it’s pretty easy to protect yourself at the expense of a little inconvenience. 

How to Stay Safe

First, remember that this doesn’t mean that your personal Kindle will stop getting security updates exactly four years after you buy it. The clock starts counting down only after that model is discontinued.

Amazon has a help page with a table showing the dates for current models, all of which are listed as having security update support through "at least" 2025. 

Once your Kindle ages out and no longer gets security updates, you can still protect yourself. First, turn off Wi-Fi and—if it has one—the Kindle’s cellular connection. This renders your Kindle unreachable, and therefore very safe. 

Someone reading a Kindle E-book outdoors.

James Tarbotton / Unsplash

You will not be able to use some features. Of course, the Kindle Store will be unavailable, but you will also lose access to Wikipedia lookups and WhisperSync. New books and samples will have to be bought via another computer and loaded onto the Kindle via USB, which is a real pain but doable.

Another option is to switch to another brand of e-reader, like Kobo, but you may end up in the same situation, depending on the updated policies of whichever vendor you use. You will also have to deal with lock-in. Kindle titles cannot be transferred to other devices unless you rip the copy-protection from them first.

This is one place where paper books are still a lot better than electronic books. A paper book lasts pretty much forever, and of course, contains only one book, doesn’t have a light, and so on. But neither does it ever need security updates, and you can sell it or pass it on to a friend without worrying about DRM.

Unless laws change, fast obsolescence is a fact of life we accept in exchange for the convenience of gadgets. It may not be desirable or sustainable, but it’s where we’ve ended up. And you know what? You can always load that old Kindle up with all the books you’ve ever bought, erase the Wi-Fi password, and hand it over to one of your kids, nieces, or nephews. Try that with a paper library.

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