Do you know where your data really are once they land on the Internet? Until a few months ago only a few people realized that their personal health data was being used by drug companies to develop products and advertising campaigns.
Cloud computing is another technology where users entrust their data to service providers. Google, Microsoft, Dropbox etc are example of this type of business. With Cloud computing your data is shared and syncronized between your computer and the cloud provider, which is good as backup in case your computer crashes but it is bad if it is not encrypted.
Users should also take into consideration that in the terms of service cloud companies normally protect themselves disavowing liability and harm that could derive from the provider’s negligence. In strict terms, if users lose their data, it is not fault of the provider.
The rise of these new technologies that act as network of interconnection raises the question whether or not the adavantages of using them outweigh their risks. It is hard to answer this question also because the accounts that users already have on social media websites may or may not be considered “our data”. It depends on the points of view.
Understanding where our data go is very important. Once we log in with our information on a website and we type our credit card information to make a payment, we don’t know if that website is secure, if it has been hacked or if it is going to be breached soon. Security is not an afterthought nor an option and the recent mega breaches that occurred at Target and Home Depot testify of the naivete regarding how certain decisions are taken in corporate America.
A cloud service is safe as long as its provider offers encryption and explains how that type of security is stronger than other types of security.
IT security is about trust. You have to trust your computer maker, your software maker, your Windows or Apple software, and ultimately, you have to trust your ISP that it is not sharing certain type of information with the thrid parties. But will your cloud company use the same security measures you would use if that was your network? In a nutshell, how secure is the network you are ousourcing your information to? You will never know, because you do not own that network nor are its administrator.
And, what about if the cloud company you are trusting, is sold to another company or refuses to give you back your data?
Trust is a concept as old as humanity, and the solutions reside in being careful on whom you trust and why.