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Hackers in the Clouds

Updated on January 25, 2017

Is Your Cloud Letting You Down?

By Greg Lundeen [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Greg Lundeen [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons | Source

"The New World"

As I indicated in a previous Hub, Fintech is label for the New World of Financial Technologies, which is changing the landscape of our lives in no small way. The problems are many, especially when it comes to replacing our money or even something better, like keeping our stuff safe. By stuff, I mean our real stuff. Stuff we like to hold onto: our memories and our important files. These memories and files can mean profits to companies around the globe and they are hopping to our rescue. But can we rescue ourselves instead and keep the all of these companies away from our private memories?

"We give Strangers access to our Stuff"

Currently, we can save our files many ways. On our hard drives, until they fail and we need to buy a new computer. On various media devices, memory sticks, CD's, DVD's - until they break, become lost or get scratched. On the unsecured Cloud(s), which we pay too much for and where we give the companies, complete strangers, access to our stuff – in trust of course. That is until they lose our stuff or some teenage hacker posts our wedding photos on YouTube – Photo Shopped to show us doing something we never did.

With all these downsides in mind, people are spending loads of real cash to save their stuff. Just where do many of us save our important files? Just how many Cloud Storage Companies are there? That is a good question. Let us just say, they are popping up like little weasels. They see opportunity and they are knocking at our digital doors day and night.

Microsoft has their version of Cloud Storage, it's called Azure. There is also a Verizon Cloud, a Google Cloud, a Sprint Cloud, an Amazon Cloud, iCloud from Apple, a Internap Cloud, and a Barracuda Cloud. And I have not even scratched the surface, but you get the idea. There are many Clouds in the Clouds.

"All you might need in the near future is a good internet connection"

In an article titled, "As purse strings loosen up, CIOs blend innovation into 2015 IT budgets, but security and cost containment remain top priorities" for COMPUTERWORLD, dated November 3, 2014, Stacy Collet indicated that forecasts implied the use of Cloud services is on an upswing. The Information Technology or IT careers appear to be moving away from large Computer-Server based systems in favor of Cloud based computing and digital storage. This means that all the IT people will need in the near future, if prognostications hold, is very good internet connection.

10 Cloud Storage Companies of note

Company
Price*
Trend
justcloud.com
$3.95
Up
livedrive
$6.00
Level
crashplan
$5.99
Down
zip cloud
$4.95
Up
SugarSync
$7.49
Up
SOS
$9.99
Down
Dropbox
$9.99
Up
Carbonite
$4.99
Up
mozy
$5.99
Down
HIGHTAIL
$15.99
Level
According www.top10cloudstorage.com as of February 6, 2015, the Top 10 Cloud Storage platforms. All company names are Trademarked. * Prices subject to change

Is there a "Cloud Rat" in Your Cloud?

By Jaroslav Vogeltanz  via Wikimedia Commons
By Jaroslav Vogeltanz via Wikimedia Commons | Source

"Are the Clouds are Centralized?"

Centralization of information. Clouds are not amorphous wisps of digital steam, floating around the world, willy nilly - but we know that. Clouds are centralized, if not in substance, at least in control. In other words, your particular choice of Cloud does not mean that your information is as safe as it could be. Companies store your information for you and you give them cash to keep your stuff secure. You would also highly appreciate it, if your chosen company keeps its eyes off of your stuff, keeps your stuff encrypted, and does not leave the 'Hack Door' open. Unfortunately, the 'Hack Door' seems wide open in so many companies.

"The Hack Door''

There have been numerous examples of Clouds being hacked. Although, many such hacks appear to be related to poor password choices, even iCloud, at one point, allowed hackers to try an unlimited number of password attempts in efforts to break into the system. That has since been fixed, according to Mark Rogowsky, who contributed to Forbes.com on September 3, 2014 in his article "Yes, Celebs Had Their iCloud Accounts Hacked. No, You Shouldn't Shut Yours Off". Companies have since begun to adopt 2-Factor Authentication, which is a system that sends you a code on a separate device you own. This method of authentication is not new.

The iCloud incident has now turned into a high profile issue, with users left wondering just how safe their information is on the Cloud in general. Some articles refer to the problem as "Cloud-gate". Usually, these very same articles state that the Cloud is very safe and very secure, which, by and large, it may very well may be. But that does mean we trust the Clouds.

Another seemingly descriptive phrase is the "New Frontier", meaning the Cloud is the newest challenge to crack, according to the hackers. They, the hackers, are leveraging their information yield by moving into our mobile devices. Third party applications, lost or stolen Smart Phones, phishing scams, are just a few of the ways hackers are exploiting our Clouds.

And there are other prying eyes

The US Government and the NSA, under the Patriot Act, claims the right to read your stuff, for your own safety. To combat terrorism. This bit of information came from the American Civil Liberties Union. I am sure some of you feel safer. You have nothing to hide. So why are they looking? Just in case? Just in case you are a terrorist or perhaps...you haven't paid your taxes?

Old Locks or New?

By Garretttaggs (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons
By Garretttaggs (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons | Source

Okay, so how can we store our digital Stuff, securely?

One solution, but it's an old standby, becoming more popular now, is the Home Cloud idea. You buy a storage device, there are many out there, and you upload your stuff to the device. But to say, it is in the Cloud, is a bit of a stretch. Your stuff in on your device. Once again, although it is safer to keep our stuff at home, it may not be as efficient as a Cloud based system you can download from and upload to, while you are on the beach having a cold one. Additionally, as you know, devices break, get stolen or can become corrupted. There is also the remote possibility, that a hacker might be interested in the 'Hack Door' to your storage devices.

Peer-to-Peer

By ColaboraBora via Wikimedia Commons
By ColaboraBora via Wikimedia Commons | Source

Another solution on the near horizon

Peer-to-Peer 'Fintech' technologies. You've probably heard about them. Peer-to-Peer or Person-to-Person or Computer-to-Computer – however you can best wrap your mind around the concept. The point being, it's a network or a Cloud, but a decentralized one. Nobody owns it. No one company controls the system. It is voluntary. Anyone who wishes to use it, can. Anyone wishing to contribute, can. Your computer can become a link, a depository if you will, of a decentralized Cloud based network. But how can Peer-to-Peer Clouds be safer than company owned, Government watched, Hacker hacked, centralized Cloud?

Enter Encryption

Just as companies and governments have been encrypting data for many years, there was always a problem when using public forms of transmission. The data, the digitized information, which flowed through the public internet was there for anyone, any hacker, to see. When encryption began to thwart the prying eyes of hackers and governments alike, many Fintech start ups began to take notice. To utilize this technology in new ways became a mandate to them. One such way is Bitcoin. It uses encrypted information and a ledger based system, called a 'blockchain', to transfer value, as long as people continue to accept that it has value. There are hundreds of other 'Fintech' experiments of this nature, but several are incorporating Cloud Storage services. One in particular, if it succeeds, might just keep our digital stuff very safe.

How do you rate Private Encrypted Clouds?

4 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of Peer-to-Peer Cloud Storage

Storj

Storj is under development and is a small, Peer-to-Peer Cloud services system which, as I understand it, incorporates a Storjcoin X, like a Bitcoin, into their overall structure. Like Bitcoin, only you have the key to your Storj Stuff. There are no central points of failure. No big data vault. Instead, all of your digital stuff is spread out over the network. It's on my computer and your computer.

The idea, if it succeeds, is to use the Storjcoin as the 'money' in which to purchase the Cloud Services. But there is more. Storj - and you can read about it at the website, just search for the word Storj – encrypts and shreds your digital stuff, then distributes the pieces all over the network of users. The users, are you and me. We can participate and volunteer a portion of our hard drives to be used as part of the Peer-to-Peer Cloud and be paid in Storjcoins. We can just buy the Storjcoins, if we don't want to be part of the network, like the crypto-currency investors are doing. Either way is acceptable. In other words, you can have one without the other.

If Storj becomes a major player in the Cloud Services Industry, the hope will be that the value of their shares or Storjcoins, will go up. This value would be based upon its usefulness as a Cloud, acceptance as a store of value and efficiency, as a functioning network. What is more, the value of the Storjcoin would be based, not simply upon its digitized 'coin', like Bitcoin, but its inherent 'service' value. The value of the service to us. The actual value would then be reflected, at least in theory, by the value we place in saving our digital stuff in a secure easy to use manner, in the Storj Network.

Bitcoin, by contrast, has no intrinsic value. Some will argue this point. But Bitcoin is only a way to transmit and record codes in a secure fashion via a Peer-to-Peer Network.The only problem is that Bitcoin's fluctuating value relies upon its users and the trust they have in the system. Lately, Bitcoin's values have disappointed.

Peer-to-Peer Cloud 'Fintech'

Where do you think the Clouds are going?

See results

If you are curious about Peer-to-Peer Cloud Storage - here is one place to start.

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    • Mark Johann profile image

      Mark Johann 2 years ago from Italy

      It is not safe in the cloud but the accessibility is endless. Thanks for this hub. I know a lot of things.