It’s a question we’re asked often: is it necessary to install antivirus software on an Amazon Fire tablet? (They're also known as Kindle Fire tablets, but Amazon dropped the 'Kindle' part of the name a couple of years ago.)
The short answer is no. But that doesn’t mean you’re invulnerable to attacks. Here’s what you need to know to stay safe.
Are Fire tablets immune from viruses?
Technically, no. But cybercriminals tend to put most effort into writing malware for Windows because it runs on hundreds of millions of computers and laptops. By contrast, the number of Amazon Fire tablets is very small, so there’s little incentive to target those users.
Plus, as long as you install apps from Amazon’s Appstore (below) and not from anywhere else, it’s highly unlikely any virus-ridden apps can get onto your tablet.
Even if they do, they don’t have free rein to access other files on the tablet or hardware such as the camera and microphone. When you install an app, it has to ask permission for any of these things, so don’t grant it if you’re not happy or don’t entirely trust the app.
Finally, Fire tablets automatically update so you'll always have the latest version of the software which should be the most secure.
Why do I need to be careful then?
One way that criminals can target anyone on the internet, regardless of the device they’re using is social engineering. Put simply, it means they’ll try to trick you into handing over your details without realising.
A fairly well-known technique is the ‘phishing’ email, which will contain a message that persuades you to give information – maybe your bank details – in order to get something in return. It could be a refund, a tax rebate or even the classic “I’ve been left millions of pounds and I want to give it to you” scam.
It may even purport to be an email from Amazon. Around a year ago, fake emails were sent out which said there was a problem with a recent order, and attempted to coax users to enter their bank details.
There are plenty of other scams, but you just need to exercise caution when shopping online or checking emails. Don’t click on links unless you’re sure they’re genuine.
Sometimes a link in an email will look fine, but it will take you to a non-genuine website which could be a clone of your bank’s website. This is why it’s best to open a web browser and type in the address yourself, then check that the site has the appropriate padlock symbol near the address bar to tell you the connection is secure.