The business world is moving to a concept called Cloud Computing, where programs and storage of data usually residing on the companies’ computers is stored and operated over the Internet on computers owned by companies who provide the service. In other words, companies who, in the past, have guarded their software and data with extreme security are now deciding to let someone else run their software and store their data for them. While the Cloud Computing companies “guarantee” that the software and data will be kept in high security, safe from any and all hazards; I find that hard to believe. If governments around the world, including the U.S. and Great Britain, have been hacked time and again, sensitive data exposed and stolen from parts of the government who are known for their security, secrecy, and technological strength…can you say U.S. Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security?…then how secure do you think these Cloud Computing businesses will keep a client’s technology assets?
Cloud Computing has become popular in the last five years or so, probably because businesses have had to trim their technology spending in a bad economy, and have done so at the peril, in my opinion, of losing their technology assets, intellectual property, and other company secrets that cyber criminals would be happy to sell to their competitors or ransom back to them, the rightful owner.
Home computer uses are not exempt from Cloud Computing. Anyone who uses an online email service like Yahoo or Gmail, or online office-related software like word-processing, spreadsheets, or database management are also using a form of Cloud Computing and are therefore at risk. Admittedly, home users have less valuable data to be stolen compared to a business; however, your data could be sifted and searched to find personal or financial information that could be used to steal your identity, clean out your bank accounts, take out credit in your name, and generally make your life miserable for a long time. Identity theft is a big business in the cybercrime world, and hacking a million or so Yahoo or Google user’s personal documents would yield a considerable amount of revenue for the bad guys.
If you, a home user, are using one of these free online “Cloud Computing” applications; my advice to you is as follows. If you’re using cloud-based applications because you can’t afford to purchase an off-the-shelf office suite, consider switching to OpenOffice or LibreOffice for your needs. They are free, the software is downloaded to your computer, and your data and documents reside on your computer. If you must use the online Cloud Computing applications, be careful to avoid documenting and storing personal information which can be aggregated by the bad guys to identify you.
As always, I appreciate your comments on this subject…so please do. And be careful out there…it’s extremely dangerous these days.
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Home computing is a blast…keep it safe, productive and enjoyable.