Cloud computing has been touted as the perfect solution for our increasingly mobile life-style – everything we need is always online and always accessible.
The occasional warnings from security professionals about the need to ascertain the safety of the information in the cloud were taken in stride and responded with a too easily given avowal: “Trust us. It’s safe. We have experts that will resolve any problem.”
The latest attack on Google proves that no matter how many times one repeats the “It’s safe” mantra, it won’t make it so. Mike Elgan thinks that it’s time to stop and reevaluate this “headlong rush into the cloud”.
The Google incident showed us that the cloud is still uncharted territory, with enemies behind every rock. Until we know exactly what to expect, we should refrain from going forth.
The problem with Google is that it amasses a lot of crucial personal information about ourselves in one place: the content of our emails, our schedule, our location, our friends – just to name a few of the most basic things. Think about all the Google applications you use and you can extrapolate what kind of information Google knows about you.
Think now about what value that information has to your government (or an “enemy” government), marketers or financial services companies – and this is just a list of “legitimate” enterprises and institutions! What about criminals who could use this information to blackmail you or to impersonate you?
Acts of cyber espionage are quickly becoming an everyday occurrence, because knowledge equals power, and power and money go hand-in-hand.
The sheer amount of planning and research, intelligence-gathering and the employment of sophisticated techniques involved in the Google-China hacking incident should prove that there are people out there that are capable of such complex and time- and money-consuming operations.
So, the moral of this story is: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Don’t make it easy for someone to gain that much information about you just by accessing one set of records. Be vary of the cloud and of those who say it’s perfectly safe.