Lots of users are moving their computing lives from the desktop to the cloud. They rely on hosted web applications to access emails, store photos and documents. But even if it comes with a lot of convenience, there are some hidden risks.
Less Privacy Protection under the Law
To search your house or your office (including documents stored on your computer's hard drive), cops need to obtain a search warrant. To get the information you have stored on 3rd party servers, they only need a subpoena, which is easier to obtain. This
kind of search can even happen without your knowledge.
Weak Security Systems Easy to Break Into
The government having a look at what you do or what you have is probably much less a concern than someone getting illegally to it. Due to weak password recovery workflows, phishing attacks and keyloggers the Security Risks are bigger.
Data Lock-in and 3rd Party Control
When you live in the cloud, you're beholden to a 3rd party who can make decisions about your data and platform in ways never seen before in computing.
Amazon reaches into customer's kindles and remotely delete already purchased books. Facebook launches Beacon, an advertising mechanism that collects and publishes information about what you do on external websites on your facebook profile (only to apologize
and offer an opt-out later). Apple denies approval for the Google Voice application in the App Store. Twitter doesn't offer the ability to export more than 3,200 status updates. Flickr lets you see only 200 photos you've uploaded if you don't have a paid pro
account. MySpce and Facebook don't remove immediately photos from their servers when you delete them.
Server Availability and Account Lockout
One of the biggest benefits of storing your data on the cloud is that you don't have to worry about backups anymore. Big companies with hundreds of servers are more reliable than your little external hard drive, right?
Yes, but servers go down, and when you're dependent on a web application to get your email or access your powerpoint presentation.
This is where offline technologies like Google Gears which offer decent export functionality and a good backup system can improve things, but not all systems offer it.
Don't get me wrong, I've been among the firsts to jump on the cloud wagon and I'm very happy with it so far. It's just that everyone should know about the down sides and make a clear choice before using it.
For more information about a threat related to Cloud Computing, please read the very interesting blog of Uri Rivner about the