Just How Secure is the Cloud?

article by Kerri L. author
The convenience of the cloud is unmatched. It’s a place where all our important information can be automatically backed up in case of emergency, shared easily with friends and family, or used to support multiple users in business of all sizes. But, is it also dangerous?

When control is sacrificed for quality-of-life, what are the consequences?

As the cloud industry develops, this has become the central issue for those arguing for and against the cloud model. Both sides have used some of the cloud’s less-shining moments as examples of how things can go wrong – but also how they can be prevented.

The iCloud Celeb Hack

One of the most damaging events in the history of the cloud happened when a rogue hacker broke into the iCloud accounts of several famous celebrities in 2014, and released embarrassing pictures that they had taken with their iPhones. The content of the images aside, the camera application on any iPhone automatically backs up photos to the user’s iCloud account, meaning that images that should have been kept private were being sent to Apple’s servers.

The event hit cloud users on eye-level. Empathetic people could easily see why an unsecure cloud may cause problems in their own lives, exemplified by what was happening to their favorite celebrities who were suddenly dragged into the muck by a single exploit.

The End of Code Spaces

In the same year as the celebrity hacking scandal, a company called Code Spaces was ruined by their improper use of the cloud, and by their storage provider AWS as well. A hacker able to access the company’s files via Amazon Web Services-hosted servers ransomed the data for a large sum of money to Code Spaces’ founder.

The ransom wasn’t paid in time, or at all, and the hacker deleted all the company’s priceless app development data. AWS was the only backup Code Spaces had in place.  There was no on-site storage, double backup, versioning or secondary service to ensure its integrity, marking a grave error. Code Spaces was forced to close its doors just months later.

In the case of Apple, we saw the failure of Apple’s cloud team to sufficiently protect their data, but also user error in that none of the celebs understood that you can turn off cloud-sync for photos. In the case of Code Spaces, the company’s “eggs in one basket” backup strategy was to blame. The lesson here is that in addition to educating yourself about your cloud service of choice, it’s also recommended that you know what to look for in your cloud storage provider.

Shopping for a Cloud

Making multiple backups and learning about specific cloud platform features is the user’s responsibility, but there are other things to look for before you choose a storage provider. First, look for the availability of their security response team. Is it 24/7 or less? Is the team on-site or not? If security is your number one concern, you should look for a service that features both, such as MyPCBackup.

Second, how does a user gain access to their backup and how secure is the process? Services like pCloud offer high levels of encryption at every step and multi-factor authentication – both important features to look for in a cloud provider. With due diligence, it’s simple to find a reputable cloud – just remember that you should also learn as much as you can about the cloud to familiarize yourself with the functions, features, and potential drawbacks.