DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

August 16, 2011

Security in the Cloud

I was talking to my friend and realtor, Chris Rooker of Kline May Realty, about security of documents in the "Cloud".  I presented him with a thought that I voice often and that is, at this point in time, I do not put anything confidential online; including in my emails and online storage.  Never do I have my social security number, debit card number, bank usernames or passwords online anywhere.

A very basic definition of the cloud is (when talking computers and technology) the place where companies deliver many services online..  In other words the service is on a server somewhere in cyberspace and not on your local hard drive.  You can access these services from your computer. 

Some of the services include fully developed applications like Google Apps, Microsoft Office 365, Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo mail and even fun things like Pandora.  There are also many cloud storage services, for instance, DropBox (my favorite http://bit.ly/use-DropBox), Windows Life Mesh, Amazon S3, etc. 

There are a tremendous number of cloud services to choose from.  The list grows daily – probably by the minute.  Some of these services are free while others are not.  

One concern I have is where your information stored. I mean where geographically, as in what country?  What if your important data is stored on a junk (not one of the best available) server somewhere in a war-torn country where the costs are much less expensive?  Then what if that country has a military coup or is destroyed by some other country?  How do you get your data and/or what are the new guys doing with your information?

Next, what if the company that has your information goes bankrupt or is sold to someone else?  You would hope that proper provision has been made for continuous service, but what if it hasn’t?

Here is one last thought for you to lay awake at night and consider.  Where is one of the weakest links in any security?  It would be people, plain and simple.  More than likely your password is safe and won’t be compromised by people in the company servicing your online data but that isn’t my people concern.  Think about the "uncrackable safe" scenario for a bank.  Banks want to advertise their vault as one that no one, not even the locksmith can get into.  This gives their customers a great feeling of security.  But think about this…if even a locksmith can’t get into it, what happens during an emergency or some foul-up?   How can they get their money out?   It could be locked up forever.  So there has to be someone with the ability to get into that safe through a "back door".

The same thing is true for cloud storage.  Even though it may be ultimately and inscrutably secure, someone has to be able to get to the data on the servers in case of an emergency. This could quite possibly be their most dissatisfied and disgruntled employee.  Think about that for a minute.

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