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Amazon update for older Fire TV devices helps keep you safe from malware

In June, reports began to surface that some older models of Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick devices were being targeted by malware. In order to be at risk, you would have needed to manually enable certain options that are off by default, meaning many users weren’t affected, but it was still worrisome enough that Amazon has rolled out a new software update that will help users make sure they don’t unknowingly open themselves up to risk, AFTVnews reports.

The malware that users began spotting in June relied on Android Debug Bridge (ADB) being enabled in the settings menu. Normally, this is only used by app developers who create software that runs on Fire TV devices, but it is also used to sideload applications that aren’t directly available on Amazon’s App Store like Kodi or Terrarium TV.

Many people installing Kodi or Terrarium understand that they’re operating outside of how most people use their Fire TV devices and also understand the risk they’re undertaking, but not everyone is aware of this. Newer versions of Fire TV devices like the Fire TV Cube use Fire OS 6, which prompts the user to make sure they really understand what they’re doing when they enable ADB. Plenty of older devices like the original Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, as well as the second generations of those, use the older Fire OS 5 operating system.

Until this update, older Fire TV models don’t prompt the user before turning on ADB. That is, until now. With the latest update — version — the operating system will prompt users just as Fire OS 6 does.

This doesn’t mean that you’re any safer if you do decide to turn ADB off to install Kodi, Terrarium, or other software that you need to sideload. The malware still works exactly as it did before. The only difference is that all users of Fire TV devices will be less likely to turn on ADB by accident if they’re poking through the menus.

If you have no interest in sideloading apps, you shouldn’t have much to worry about from this malware, but if your TV ever prompts you to turn on ADB and you’re not sure why, make sure to deny the request.

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Kris Wouk
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kris Wouk is a tech writer, gadget reviewer, blogger, and whatever it's called when someone makes videos for the web. In his…
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