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Trust in the Cloud – Will You Be Safe?

Security in the Cloud

Yesterday, I shared with you the new era of cloud computing and explained how online web applications will eventually replace our traditional operating systems. In this post I look at the security issues with putting your entire digital life in the cloud.

Do you trust others with protecting and taking care of your sensitive data, photos, and other important computer documents?

Computer security is a top priority and as we’ve learned with viruses and related hoaxes the best defense against such attacks is often placed on the end user (the person who uses the files). Where trust is one-dimensional in traditional computing practices, cloud computing requires placing trust of your ‘system’ in the hands of individuals who may or may not have your particular interests in the forefront of their mind. Today, I look at how individuals will have to share the trust (often forcibly so) of their cloud ‘systems’ with others or be restrained by the decisions of others in terms of security, safety, data retrieval.

Data Retrieval and Mobility – Will your data be where you want it to be?

For the moment, most cloud services allow you to take your data with you elsewhere. However, there is a growing trend of companies closing their data retrieval systems making it harder and less appetizing to the end user to leave. For the most part I currently have the deciding factor over what happens to my data on my local computer (I can choose which systems or people have access to my information) but when I move that information to the cloud I must trust that that the cloud service that I choose has my best interests in mind and is secure. The cloud computing era will initially restrict the transferability of data from one system to another and restrict use of other web applications. Companies are betting that once they get your information to their ‘cloud’ you will stay with them as long as they make it difficult or at least not worth your while to move. As cloud computing systems become more and more competitive, fewer options for data transfer will be available in the short-term. This era will force users to cognitively think about how their data is treated and whether or not there is inherent mobility of that data. However, as we’ll later in the series, as time progresses options regarding portability may increase from where they are headed today.

Viruses + Security – Welcome to the Cloud

The trust a user has with their cloud computing service ties directly into how the service treats that information and the level of security given. No computer/server system is 100% completely safe as we have seen time and time again. Just last week CitiGroup reported a hacking of their computer systems where 200,000 accounts were accessed by a hacker and somewhat sensitive account info (like personal contact information) was stolen. Cloud computing faces the same risks as online companies face today: imagine putting all of your financial information online only to find that it’s stolen or used in fraudulent ways?

Don’t get me wrong – the internet is very secure and I trust my most sensitive information to be online but “where there is a will, there is a way” and hackers will always be hackers. As cloud computing develops, hackers will adapt and begin attacking cloud systems in new and inventive ways. Putting all of your personal information and data in one place could be very risky. Internet viruses and hoaxes have persisted and are only going to escalate with the increased use of the online space, particularly with social media.

Our series on cloud computing continues. Tomorrow I will share with you changes I see in hardware and software with regards to cloud computing and how your computer might eventually be priced at $99.

How much trust do you put in your information stored online?