Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Clouding over? No. Absolutely not. Not yet.

Yet more bad news for the 'cloud computing' marketplace today as Sony warns that a further 25 million gaming users may have had their details hacked, in addition to the 77 million last week!

As a reminder, names, home addresses, e-mail addresses, dates of birth, phone numbers and gender information were taken and most people find that shocking and scary. Last week there were reports that un-encrypted credit card information was also stolen.

And this comes hot on the heels of Amazon's very embarrassing failure of its cloud data centre hosting which brought a number of high-profile web services such as Foursquare down, too. The Economist is far from alone in warning businesses of the hidden costs of cloud computing that must be factored in to the headline cost reductions that make the services seem so attractive in the first place.

Further, last week also saw concerns about unexplained location tracking being compiled automatically by Apple and Google through the use of their iPhone and Android devices. The brouhaha was sufficient to drag Steve Jobs briefly out of medical leave to try to calm anxieties...

Meanwhile, TomTom (makers of SatNav GPS devices) has admitted selling data to police who then know where to lay speed traps!

Does this mean that cloud computing is over? Not likely, at least not yet. But expect users increasingly to demand strong encryption of their data by service providers; expect end users increasingly to want to control access to their own information; and expect businesses to be suspicious of the risks of putting all of their business eggs into someone else's basket held up by clouds.

There remain just three options, for most of us:

  1. Learn how to use the technology and take the risks associated
  2. Don't bother to learn how to use the technology; expect the risk level to be increased
  3. Don't use the technology, but be aware that your 'invisibility' will cause disadvantageous conclusions to be drawn about you anyway

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