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The Cloud, Your Data, Unknowns

Thare are an estimated 3.17 billon users on the Internet today and by definition, by viewing this blog you are one of them. What you may not know is that you are most likely a user of the cloud. Your data on some set of unknown computers with access by unknown companies and government agencies, what could go wrong?

The cloud is a concept that involves storing data on a remote database maintained by a third-party with the Internet serving as a link between your device and that server. This means the data can be accessed anywhere provided there is an Internet connection.

The technology has its fair share of benefits – that we can’t take away from it. it is the reason everyone is talking cloud these days, and gone are the days it used to be a big word marketed as snake oil. in fact, if you own an email account or use social media like Facebook, you are on a cloud platform. for individuals, there is no longer need to burn documents, photos or music on dvd while you can just upload it to the cloud and access it from any corner of the globe. at the enterprise level, companies no longer need to invest fortunes in hardware and software for their storage needs.

This may sound too simple and convenient (it is) but the technology is fraught with danger that may not be apparent on the surface – until you care to think about it.

The Darker Side of Things

A storm has been brewing in the world of cloud computing ever since the concept was formed. The main issue with the technology has been, and remains, security.

Looking at the bigger picture, what users of cloud computing are doing is entrusting someone else to look after their data. This means you have no idea where your data is physically stored, who and how many people on the cloud provider’s team can see your data, and how that data is handled when it’s no longer needed.

Storing data on the cloud also means the data is always at risk of being hijacked by online criminals because the information is on services accessible over the Internet. Take the case of Box and Dropbox last year, for example. A company called Intralinks revealed that mundane and simple tasks such as document link sharing on the two popular platforms could be accessed by unintended third parties, although they have since moved to address those flaws. Let’s not even mention the hacking attack before that.

This is not to discredit these two companies. Not at all. With cloud computing, there is always a risk, and this also goes for those other giant cloud providers: Google Drive, iCloud, SkyDrive, Sugar Sync et al.

Insider Threats

If you have been paying attention, you will have noticed a growing trend of cyber-attacks on both small and large companies, with the latter the most worrying because their security systems are more robust. But no one is exempt, not even ‘online security’ firms. In the case of entities like Vodafone and the NSA, the security breaches have come from the inside courtesy of people who have privileged access. Think of it along these lines and it starts to get really worrying.

The cloud makes this worse because anyone with administrative access to the cloud management platform can gain entry into any virtual machine undetected and pose a grave danger to the entire cloud environment within minutes.

Uncle Sam

You probably have heard that technology companies – the usual suspects (Microsoft, Google, Facebook etc.) – along with government departments in the US (read NSA) and other countries may be hijacking your data in transit or in storage (including on the clouds). What this means is that individuals and businesses alike have enough on their plate to worry about already. Initially, there was the potential threat of rogue employees, the competition and hackers breaching cloud security. But now, there is the government to worry about too. It has reached a point where tech giants are investing millions to beef up the security of their data because the NSA has become like an adulterous partner who can never be trusted again. This follows a once blissful marriage that saw the two entities share a bed, but apparently one partner is groping where the other doesn’t feel, well – too comfortable.

What you can do

Cloud technology will always have its weaknesses. And given it’s hard to live without it in this modern age, all we can do is adopt methods to help us cope with the gravity of the issue better. And what better way to do it than employ intuitive apps like Nuvolect’s CounterCloud and CrypSafe apps.
CrypSafe imports and encrypts your Google contacts and password keeping everything safe from the prying eyes of the cloud. CounterCloud is your eyes and ears on your personal cloud. It has a cloud editor tool showing you the contents of your personal cloud, a cloud monitor tool that watches your cloud 24/7, and a cloud survey tool showing all of the apps (average of 39) that can snoop your contacts.

Everything you put in your smartphone adds risk. The default security on your Android is open and sharing of information. You must take proactive steps to protect your privacy.