Recent events have brought to light an intriguing question about computer backups and their safety. “Is the cloud safe?” has been a recurring question in tech news articles and I’d like to take a moment to answer that question for all of you.
First off, just to clear it up for anyone who isn’t quite sure, “The Cloud” as a computer term simply refers to the internet and things done online. If you took a picture on your phone and saved it on some social networking site you can later access that picture on your computer with no trouble, even though your photo is not actually stored on your computer. One could say at that point that your picture was stored in the cloud (since it was saved online).
When a person does a backup to the cloud, they’re saving all their data online so it could be accessible from wherever they go. Google, Apple, Amazon, Dropbox, etc, all have services that provide online storage for your computer data. The problem is that since your info can be accessed from anywhere there is a potential for hackers to get at your stuff. Here is the article that has inspired the recent Cloud scare: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/08/apple-amazon-mat-honan-hacking/
This guy in the article got hacked badly. The criminal was smart and conned both Amazon and Apple into giving out this guy’s personal information. Shame on Apple and Amazon, right? Well, they’re taking measures now to correct the security flaws so this doesn’t happen to anyone else. But what about the guy that lost all his info? The next thing to do is obviously try to recover the data somehow, but otherwise he’s a bit out of luck. The best solution I know of is to have a backup that gets monitored and managed by a real live person for all the computer data that is really important. Or if he had been doing a basic simple backup on his laptop he could have recovered the data which was most important to him.
When you really get down to it though, he was the victim of a specifically-targeting and persistent hacker. Most of us won’t have to worry about that and to that degree, the cloud is actually safe. Apple and Amazon are taking measures to fix their glitches and other cloud storage providers are most definitely taking lessons from this. Google already had a fairly secure two-factor authentication which works pretty well if you use it.
If you have concerns about your own cloud accounts or storage let us know. Ultimately a good backup is the best protection in this world of potentially fickle computers.