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While getting a coffee today, a man walked up to me and offered me a kindle. he said he no longer wanted it and that he was looking to give it away. An avid reader, I accepted. It has no accounts on it, for when I start it up it prompts me to make a new account. Obviously, I don't want anyone stealing my credit card/other information, so is there anyway to know if it has been compromised? As well, is there any way to purge the device's contents so that I can be completely sure?

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Sounds like the introduction to a movie... a la "The Game" starring Michael Douglass –  makerofthings7 Feb 2 '13 at 22:06
    
I know it can sound stupid, but can anyone tell me what is a kindle? –  Salvador Dali Feb 4 '13 at 9:43
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@SalvadorDali - it is an e-reader made by Amazon. They are by far the most popular dedicated e-reader in the US. I don't know about other locals. –  AJ Henderson Feb 4 '13 at 14:29
    
Give it to charity if you don't trust it. In theory it could be a targeted attack against you. If that is remotely possible, then accepting it is silly. If it is not an attack, you would be making good on the donor's intention to do good with his gift. –  Ben Jan 28 at 16:22

4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Sounds extremely strange to me and I believe that you may have received some Stolen Goods.

But none the less this is how you can delete all information.

  1. Ensure your kindle is plugged into a power socket

  2. Access The Kindle's Settings Menu

  3. Select Restore / Reset to Factory Default

It's very doubtful they would have some kind of virus, or key logger after you have done these steps since they can't really inject the recover partition unless someone really knows what they are doing - since some weirdo handed you over the device It's highly unlikely unless they are MI5 are you are a naughty person ;)

Safest Method

The safest method would be to do a Kill Disk on it, but the problem with this is that you'd also find that it deletes the recovery partition.

PS. What Coffee Shop do you go to? Maybe I hangout in the wrong Costa LOL

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In fact, it's theorically possible to hack totaly a kindle and produce a fake interface ( with faked Select Restore / Reset to Factory Default option). hackaday's paper.

As @bybe said, the safer way is to do a low-level format on disk, with all problems.

When hacked, such material is fundamentally a little computer, with network connections and a small but enough bunch of RAM.

Connected to a local network it could, for sample, open a vpn to hacker's server, browse local network and listen for command from hacker's vpn.

This could seem like a real 'trojan horse`.

So if you're working at sensible host, drop this (or go to the police, @TomLeek gave good recommendation)!

At all, this simply could be a gift...

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And of course it is always possible that you are the target of an APT style attack by a well resourced enemy, and that the Kindle has been modified to contain a sophisticated Soviet listening device.

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Tried finding a link to the Zippy strip I'm quoting and all Google can find is other places it got quoted by me. Sigh. –  Graham Hill Feb 4 '13 at 13:01
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In soviet russia, kindle reads you? –  AJ Henderson Feb 4 '13 at 14:32
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@AJHenderson, Kindle does read you. Have a look at the ToS. Amazon does keep very detailed records of your reading habits. –  Hendrik Brummermann Feb 4 '13 at 16:52
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@HendrikBrummermann - good point, not sure if that makes the joke funnier or scarier or both. –  AJ Henderson Feb 4 '13 at 16:54

It is possible that the previous owner was one of these ultra-rich people for whom money no longer has any meaning, and he honestly believed that giving the Kindle away to the nearest stranger would be the easiest and most environmental-friendly way of getting rid of it.

It is also possible that the Kindle was some highly incriminating piece of hardware that the owner was anxious to distance from his own person in the swiftest possible way. The Kindle might be stolen, or might have been involved in hacking attempts, or might contain data of questionable legality which could direct the device holder to the nearest jail (e.g. pedophile pornography, which is highly frowned upon in most countries). If that is the case, using the device, storing the device, or even resetting the device contents to factory defaults might be the source of legal trouble.

The safest course of action might be to go to the nearest police station, tell them the story of how you got the Kindle, and leave the object to them.

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Yeah, and watch them take it, stick it in a room somewhere never to be seen of again. All because the police have no idea what to do with it. –  ewanm89 Feb 3 '13 at 0:21
    
Yes, the question is what will they do with it? Most probably the person will just take the device and will be using it by himself –  Salvador Dali Feb 4 '13 at 9:53
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Then that would be his problem, not yours. This is a trade-off between the risk of owning a shady Kindle, and the disadvantage of not having the Kindle. "Safest" means making risks as low as possible, at the possible expense of usability. –  Tom Leek Feb 4 '13 at 13:15

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