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How Safe is The Cloud

The "Cloud" is becoming increasingly popular, but exactly what is it and how reliable is it as a storage system?


The cloud. Really? Who named it that? A cloud; a soft, fluffy white thing that goes away on a sunny day; made out of water vapor. Yeah. Data loves water. Maybe they named it the cloud because it is far away, floating above the earth, inaccessible. Hmm. On the other hand, perhaps they called it the cloud because it is a cloud of mystery. Nobody knows where your data is. No matter what the cloud is, they could have put a little more thought into what they (whoever "they" is) called it.

It’s only called a cloud.

What the cloud really is; is the same thing it has been for years, only bigger and more affordable. All data available over the Internet, no matter what it is, is stored on big computers called servers, all over the world—on the ground. These servers, as far as security goes, are the most secure in the world. You would think that the military or government would have the most secure servers—not even close. Google servers are more secure than any government; which lends credence to the notion that Google really is trying to take over the world.

The term "cloud" came about when nearly every aspect of computing was being stored on off-site servers and available to authorized users on nearly any device anywhere in the world. Desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones can access the same data and programs. Each device connected to the cloud functions as a terminal connected to a mainframe computer—located in the cloud.

Get off my cloud.

Hacking a cloud is a little bit trickier than hacking a PC or even a mainframe. Not only is all of the data encrypted, it may be located in pieces, spread over several servers in several different cities. But like any data stream, there is a front door; that’s how you get in. With the right user name and password, you can access all of your data. Anyone looking to hack a cloud is usually looking for the key to your door. They may not try to hack the cloud, just the device you use to access your piece of it. And, of course don’t ever underestimate a hacker’s ability to find all the back doors.

Cloudy memory.

One hacker went as far as to claim he was a specific person who had forgotten his username and password. He sweet talked an Amazon employee to "help him out." Of course, this is human error. It also started a tendency to refuse to assist customers who lose their keys to their own front door, leaving them permanently locked out.

Even if you don’t lose your keys, what happens when your organization doesn’t have a protocol on how to use the cloud. Does everyone have equal access to your files? What happens when your executive assistant accidentally deletes a file or, just as bad, overwrites a file with an obsolete version? All of a sudden you are under a "cloud" of suspicion with your superiors. It may be hard to find a silver lining in this "cloud."

No doubt, the cloud is an awesome tool. However, it is still in its infancy and vulnerable. Your data is your responsibility. Be careful about keeping your most valuable data in anything named after something soft and fluffy.

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