With the increasing popularity of cloud based services people are entrusting more and more of their personal, business and other very sensitive information to services that essentially are open to the world to access… under the right or should we say wrong circumstances.
Bear in mind while ‘cloud’ as a term is relatively new, the concept is not. Cloud really refers to anything hosted online, you could say your website – if you have one – is in the cloud. Likewise online services like Facebook, GMail, Twitter etc are cloud located services. Cloud though has ‘grown-up’ in that new online services like Dropbox, CRM’s, Accounting Packages and other software is hosted online in the cloud for you to access.
This can be hugely convenient and in some cases provide cost savings, however it is important to be aware of certain realities.
As recent high profile cases have shown, having your data online is extremely risky, for 3 main reasons.
1) People use insecure passwords.
The most popular password in 2011 was, you guessed it, password.
Passwords need to be super secure, have little or no relationship to anything people would know about you and you might even consider changing them periodically.
For more tips on creating secure passwords, see a recent post with 9 Tips for Secure Passwords.
2) People use the same passwords on all online services.
If hackers or any unauthorised person was able to access one account, what’s to stop them from accessing them all?
It’s becoming more important to compartmentalise your passwords, isolating the most critical.
You might decide to have the same password for low level, non-critical logins, but for business info or other systems that might store your credit card for instance, to generate unique, secure passwords.
If you have a hard time remembering you might create a secure spreadsheet, diary, or use a password protected local database system, perhaps like Bento for the Mac, iPhone and iPad. Of course whatever system you use should be secure – and preferably not cloud based.
3) The services themselves can be hacked.
This is the most concerning of all. Just because you’ve followed the first 2 steps and done all you can, doesn’t mean that the service itself can’t go and get itself hacked.
But isn’t this rather alarmist?
Apple, Amazon, Sony, LinkedIn are just a few of the big name hackings that have occured recently. In each case user information (including login information) was taken. And there’s nothing you could have done to stop it.
Who will be next?
Which one will cause a huge international outcry?
The cloud may be good for many things, but while there are hackers around it would be foolish to entrust your sensitive business or personal information to these services.
Aftershock IT is an award winning IT Support & Solutions provider serving small and medium enterprises in Sydney, Wollongong & the Southern Highlands.