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Amazon Key: Security concerns & fulfilment opportunities

Amazon has yet again piqued the interest of the retail industry with the launch of Amazon Key – a delivery kit which allows couriers to enter people's homes to fulfil online orders. 

The $249 kit consists of a smart-lock and a just-launched Amazon security camera called the Cloud Cam (which comes with a subscription). The camera must be mounted inside a consumer’s home, within 25 feet of the door. Once everything’s installed, Amazon Prime members can choose the “in-home” delivery option. When a delivery arrives, Amazon will authorize the delivery and unlock the door via the cloud – and turn on the camera. Users can watch the delivery live in the Amazon Key App or see a video of it later.

Users can also schedule permanent access for family members or give temporary access to recurring visitors like dog walkers, house cleaners or out-of-town guests – and be notified any time a guest locks or unlocks the door. Eventually, Amazon Key will offer integrated unattended access options for professional service providers including the Merry Maids and pet sitters and dog walkers from Rover.com, as well as over 1,200 services from Amazon Home Services.

A smart lock controlled by Amazon was quick to raise security concerns. Adam Maskatiya, UK and Eire GM at Kaspersky Lab told Infosecurity Magazine: "Amazon’s latest service – which looks set to revolutionize the delivery market – feels like a huge test of consumer trust."

He added: “What makes the issue particularly dangerous is its potential reach: If a hacker can access the database of door codes, they can gain entry to a whole street’s worth of homes. That is what users need to be aware of; not how Amazon will use their information, but how hackers could potentially exploit it.”

Amazon hasn’t detailed the specific IoT security measures that may have been built into the scheme, (beyond Amazon’s stated general approach), leaving the door open, as it were, to speculation. Much of that speculation has to do with the fact that IoT’s track record for security leaves something to be desired. 

“Developers of smart devices do little to secure them, rarely release firmware updates and don’t explain to users that they should change their passwords,” explained Maskatiya. “This makes IoT devices perfect targets for cyber-criminals. By successfully hacking IoT devices, criminals are able to spy on people, blackmail them and even discreetly make them their partners in crime.”

Meanwhile, Tushar Patel, CMO, Kibo, pointed to how the launch demonstrate how Amazon is yet again one step ahead of the rest.

“The race for in-home delivery is well underway, but Amazon seems to have the edge over Walmart even right out of the starting gates. The announcement of Amazon Key, is the perfect example of the company’s relentless focus on long-term thinking," he said. "Not only is Amazon pushing its way to the top position of the in-home delivery winners podium by making the service available in 37 cities in a matter of weeks, but with Amazon Key, Prime shoppers can use it for services that extend beyond the retail realm. Amazon continues to carve out its niche as more than just a retailer, it’s a way of life, and one that encompasses the spirit of personalization. While it is quite impossible for retailers to compete with Amazon on this level, they can still capitalize on making sure their convenience and personalisation strategies are on par. We know that, based on our own research, 52% of retailers plan to invest in personalization in the next 12 months or are already implementing this strategy. If these announcements from Amazon and Walmart don’t entice retailers to get off the dime, I don’t know what will." 

Casey Gannon, VP of marketing at Shopgate, agreed, describing how the eCommerce giant is creating a solution to the increasing problem of online fulfilment. He said: "Amazon’s launch of its Key and Cloud Cam programs signal the latest moves in Amazon’s quest to create a truly frictionless world for its customers. This is a significant advancement for Amazon, which has become an integral part of daily life for its millions of Prime users, who rely on the multi-faceted service to bring convenience to many aspects of their busy lives. Like Amazon, many mobile retailers will take aim at nailing the convenience factor in the next several years, working toward frictionless commerce via simplified ordering, effortless delivery and integrated services.” 

This article was first published on Infosecurity Magazine and amended by the Essential Retail team. To read the original article, click here. 

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