Is it Safe to Manage Your Finances in the Cloud?
What is cloud computing?
Cloud computing is becoming more popular every day. Cloud computing is the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility over a network, such as the Internet.1 In other words, allows users to store, access, link and manage personal data or information on the Internet. Users can access information in the cloud from anywhere, at any time. cloud computing
Who uses cloud computing?
The idea of cloud computing can be quite appealing to many individuals. Individuals that travel frequently, work from virtual offices, are immobile or simply prefer easy access to their content will take pleasure in the services offered through the cloud. Users (individuals) can simply upload their databases, work projects, writings, spreadsheets, designs images, blueprints, presentations, video files, audio files, client or customer files, casework, research studies, instruction manuals, business plans, photography, calendars, newspaper and magazine articles, movies, contracts, and any other content that can be printed, scanned, played, updated or read online. Families tend to upload and access pictures and content from anywhere from the cloud. Information can be quickly and easily obtained from around the globe, anywhere where there is Internet access. Students and professors can share content, including textbooks, research material, pictures, video content, etc., easily on the cloud. Businesses can service clients and customers around the clock.
One of the greatest beneficiaries of cloud computing is employees. According to Forbes magazine, 39% of employers are now using cloud computing at their organizations, up from 28% the previous year.2 A major use of the cloud at work is business agility – accessing content that pertains to the business from any location, at any time. Many businesses with multiple locations or customers cross time zones. 50% of banks are set to use and update customer account information to the cloud within 24 months.3 How simple it will now be to upload a new large employee manual to the cloud than emailing a large electronic file or mailing large books to multiple locations? Employees can now access materials directly from the cloud. Human Resource staff must only remind employees to check out applicable employee website or accounts within the cloud for any new uploaded or posted content. Cloud computing can save businesses a ton of money each year. Employees of the financial department can now access production- and operations-related revenue and costs to run analyses or report from anywhere in the world. Business’ client or customer information can also be uploaded to the cloud. However, will customers or clients prefer their personal financial information uploaded to the cloud?
How does cloud computing work?
Although cloud computing clearly has its advantages as listed above, cloud computing also has several disadvantages. Companies and their websites, such as www.google.com, allow users to upload their content to the site. Google already warehouses vast amounts of online data and information, so they are indeed capable of facilitating cloud computing services as well. Some of the services provided through cloud computing includes: managing hardware, adding/removing applications to/from the cloud, maintaining contact lists and schedules, accessing documents, telecommunications, , Internet browsing and searches, listening to music, blogging, watching videos, etc. When users have created their accounts and passwords with Google, for example, they can begin partaking of the site’s cloud computing services rendered. The diagram below depicts customers’ interface with the cloud. videoconferencing
Understanding Cloud Computing
As you can see from the diagram above, your phone, laptop, personal computer, etc. call all be used to upload information or data to the cloud. The infrastructure of the web-based platform uses functionality that mirrors actual hardware (i.e. network connectivity, information processing, gadgets, etc.). Applications uploaded to this web-based platform, such as communication apps, networking apps, readers, etc., all operate in the same capacity as on your phone, laptop, PC, etc. While Android, for example, is used as the platform for certain cell phones and smartphones, cloud computing now substitutes that mobile platform, allowing you simple transitioning from your cell phone to your laptop to the Internet to your PC and the like.
The agility of information, however, can now induce easier, unwarranted access to content – by anyone. Information uploaded to the cloud (a web-based platform) can now be accessed by hackers as easily as breaking into any other online account. There are already many “homemade” software and hardware used to hack passwords all across the world. On January 11th, 2014, Target reported that over 110 million customers had their transaction data (i.e. name, address, phone numbers, email address) hacked. The hacker was a Russian teenager. 4 In 2010, a Missouri escrow firm lost $440,000 from a cyber heist. After trying to sue the bank that uploaded the firms' account information to the cloud, the judge ruled in favor of the bank.5 Today, secured data in applications or software can clearly be hacked. Data uploaded to the World Wide Web can now be hacked so much easier.
Will you ever consider uploading and storing your personal financial data online (i.e. bank account numbers, contact information, payee informaion, etc.)
Should you risk putting your financial information in the cloud?
Putting your financial information or data on the cloud depends on if this is truly a risk you want to take. Data anywhere online can be hacked. Contemplate if the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. Uploading your financial information to the cloud may not pose a risk to you specifically of hacked data or information, but can you truly accept the possibility of that information being hacked at all?
Data uploaded to the cloud is definitely accessible in comparison to a flash drive you can take with you anywhere. Your family, friends, and coworkers, among others can access the information in the cloud with ease and convenience. The cloud has many applications and services to offer. While you need to login to your account in the cloud using a password, password-protected accounts have been historically hacked by professional criminals. Financial information placed on the cloud may become accessible by any of the multiple hackers out there, across the world. If hacked, your financial data and information may be accessed by anyone and posted unsecured online or even sold to a third party. Identity theft is becoming increasingly common online. If hackers obtained personal information, i.e. social security numbers, bank account numbers, bank card numbers, pins, etc., it will become extremely difficult to prevent financial fraud for many years to come. Individuals will lose money, lose credit worthiness (decreased credit scores) and can end up in substantial debts. Individuals’ and their families will no longer be safe.
The choice to upload your finances to the cloud is yours.
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