www.herald-journal.com
The Woz may be right
Sept. 8, 2014
by Mark Ollig

In light of the recently stolen celebrity data files from a popular cloud-based storage server, I recall the words of Apple’s co-founder.

Steve (Woz) Wozniak gave us a warning about using cloud-based storage two years ago.

“I really worry about everything going to the cloud. I think it’s going to be horrendous. I think there are going to be a lot of horrible problems in the next five years,” Wozniak predicted.

In 2009, when public cloud-based computing was being discussed, yours truly wrote how moving our applications and data to the cloud seemed inevitable.

At the time, it appeared cloud-based servers were to be the next logical progression in how we would store and access our data and programs.

Our computing was moving onto the Web.

I believed backing up the data inside our computing devices to the cloud made sense.

Isn’t having our data stored and accessible from an offsite location, within a data server cabinet, inside a highly-secured room, the wave of the future?

We are told there is no danger of losing our data. The cloud-based servers will keep our data file information safe and secure.

Today, we are learning the real danger is having our cloud-based data accessed by unauthorized computer hackers.

It was from inside Apple’s iCloud storage servers where celebrities’ personal data (including scandalous photos) were hacked into and stolen.

Apple, however, confirmed they found no evidence of any widespread problems with its iCloud storage service.

“After more than 40 hours of investigation, we have discovered that certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords, and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the Internet,” Apple said in their media advisory statement.

Apple advised its users “to always use a strong password and enable two-step verification.”

For more information on how to secure your Apple ID accounts, visit: http://support.apple.com/kb/ht4232.

The targeted attack on Apple’s cloud-based servers is no doubt giving some pause to the users of iCloud.

A user’s data stored in the iCloud is “safe and secure” insofar as the chance of it becoming lost or unretrievable is concerned.

However, this data can be, as Apple stated, “compromised” via unauthorized access by a computer hacker.

This latest data breach of data from the iCloud, along with the recent intrusions into various well-known corporate data servers containing customer account numbers and passwords, does not bode well for consumer confidence regarding cloud-based storage of their personal data.

Even though cloud-based data is stored securely, a potential hacker, or some complex, algorithmic software program, has the potential to gain access to a private user’s data files.

Years ago, when a cloud was considered a white, puffy thing floating in the sky, we were backing up our computer files onto external hard drives, 3.5-inch diskettes, rewritable CDs, and those 5.25-inch thin floppy disks we stacked like vinyl 45 rpm records.

Today, many of our computing and smart mobile devices automatically sync and upload our files to an Apple iCloud, or other cloud-based data storage service provider such as: Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Carbonite, Mozy, or Dropbox.

Being our computer files would now be automatically stored off-site, we thought we no longer needed to worry about losing our data. The future was looking to be all wine and roses.

It is mind-boggling when one considers the large amount of personal information being stored inside the cloud.

Think of all the photos, text, and video we have uploaded to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and all those other social networks we are using.

Chromebook users are truly using cloud-computing, as they access their programs being stored inside Google’s cloud-based servers.

As we continue to send our data into online social networks and cloud-based backup dataservers, we need to be asking more questions, instead of just trusting everything will be alright.

Who is authorized to access our data?

What additional layers of security can be added to user accounts in order to be better protected from their being hacked into and compromised?

How are the cloud-based account password and security settings managed?

We need to investigate how cloud-based service providers are securing our online information.

The Woz may be right, but it is up to us to take action to ensure our online data is as protected as possible.

Let’s start examining more closely the safeguards being used to store and protect our cloud-based data.


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