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Cloud security fears overblown

Last weekend’s hacking of Wired’s Mat Honan’s internet accounts, while unfortunate for him, will not deter the vast majority of us from conducting business in the Cloud.

The bright side for everyone is that security provisions will be revisited and (hopefully) improvements made in the systems that store our personal information in repositories other than our home offices and living rooms.

Most of us utilize online banking services with our banking institutions.

We entrust our banks with our personal information and data.

It’s similar to the kind of irrational trust we have for complete strangers like commercial airline pilots—we trust these personally unknown people with our lives and to get us safely to and from our respective destinations.

It’s a trust of convenience and an expected outcome we have for both paying for our airfare and registering for online banking services.

A high profile case like Mr. Honan’s puts pressure on the likes of Apple and Amazon to immediately reassure their customers the chances for this happening again will be minimized if not completely eliminated.

On Tuesday, Apple ordered a moratorium on Apple ID password changes over the phone for at least 24 hours, after Amazon instituted a policy change that prohibits customers from calling in to change account settings like email addresses or credit cards linked to their accounts.

Pressure from the threat or actual loss of revenue, always forces change for companies that want to stay in business.

A perceived lack of attention, or inaction on the part of Amazon and Apple, would not positively affect their stock price; don’t ever believe anyone that tells you it isn’t about the money because it always is.

Lesser-in-the-limelight internet security breaches happen all the time; they just don’t make the news.

Have any of you ever had your credit cards stolen or compromised?

Hopefully your bank monitors suspicious account activity and you can be alerted, have your cards cancelled and new ones reissued promptly.

I have had this happen to me. After receiving the new card, and not being held responsible for fraudulent charges on the compromised one, I went on my merry way.

In a couple of other different instances, my identity and personal information were potentially compromised; I received form letters describing the breach, but no specific mention of anything that would be done to prevent this from happening again.

Both times I was urged to monitor my credit report for any suspicious activity, received a half-hearted apology (we regret the “error”), and that was that.

Hey, a wise man once told me, “You roll the dice when your stuff is online somewhere!”—sad but true.

My first breach was one from the Department of Defense. Mine, along with tens of thousands of other servicemen’s personal information, was compromised via a laptop theft from a government facility. I was angry, but what could I do? I felt I had little or no recourse.

The second occurred via a breach of the Colorado Family Support Registry database. Ironically enough, I had completed my child support obligation several months earlier and wondered why I hadn’t been deleted from their records after my obligation was fulfilled. I read in the Denver Post about some other guy’s personal information being stolen in the same breach and his obligation was met 20 years previously.

That didn’t exactly make me feel better.

What it did do was create an understanding that if I use anything in the form of direct or indirect online storage services, there is a chance for theft.

You can take all the measures that security experts deem appropriate.

But you can still be hacked.

Like a thief that wants into your house for something you have, the hacker who wants your info can get it.

It doesn’t mean you become skittish about using the internet and online services. It’s the risk we take for the reward that is convenience.

You ask questions when shopping for a good security system for your home.

Ask the companies who you entrust your personal data with online what they are doing to improve their security. The integrity of your personal identity is more than worth it.

The bottom line is smart consumers will use the web with confidence by demanding companies they do business with, continuously revisit their security policies.

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