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The Risk of Cloud Computing, Trust

There’s a lot of buzz these days about “cloud computing”. You may be asking yourself just what IS cloud computing? The concept is that you are not as reliant on your personal computer, but your applications and data are kept somewhere in the internet “cloud”. So for instance, I use google calendars and gmail for several things. All my calendar data is stored with Google. There are several backup services that work on the concept of online backups. This is a variation in a sense, for all of them you are relying on a server somewhere online to be where your applications or data are stored. Of course, I can hear it now, “I don’t know if I like that idea”. Yes, there are a lot of risks. Recently Charter Communications has been in the news for losing the contents of 14,000 email accounts. That should…


read deleted 14,000 email accounts. It’s not as if someone woke up one morning and didn’t know where they put them. Charter essentially removes the contents of inactive accounts from time to time and inadvertently dumped a bunch of accounts that were still active. How is this related to cloud computing? How many people do you know that rely exclusively on webmail? What if google announced that they had inadvertently deleted 14,000 gmail accounts (or calendar accounts, or google docs accounts?) That would put a lot of doubt over the idea of letting them manage our data in that great computing cloud online.

Yes, there are a lot of advantages to cloud computing, fewer resources are needed on the local pc side. (In other words you can use an ancient machine and as long as it’s able to access current web pages you can continue with your work.) If things work well you don’t have to worry about backups.

Go back and re-read that last sentence. “IF things work WELL… you don’t have to worry about backups.” I’m a little concerned that a company the size of Charter could have let something of this scale happen once, but it does remind me of this. When dealing with someone else’s data isn’t it best to be extremely cautious and do a non-destructive test to make sure that everything that you expect to happen will happen. Then once you’re convinced that everything is okay to delete you can do so.

Trust. Do we trust these companies to hold our data. For many people this comes down to privacy concerns. But I wonder if many companies are competent enough to be trusted to keep our data indefinitely.

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Posted by on February 18, 2008.

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Categories: Computers

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