The past year has seen an enormous promotion of cloud computing by corporate giants like Apple, Microsoft and Google. Microsoft’s Windows 8 has their Skydrive cloud platform built-in. Apple’s new iPhone and Macbooks link to iCloud. Google goes further, producing a cloud-only notebook called the Chromebook. Users store photos, emails and documents – or in the case of Petraeus, intimate letters.
However, in this rush the get into the cloud, the security of users is often ignored.
"Cloud computing gives us the ability to use computing resources on demand from almost anywhere," explains Bill Whelmann, chief executive officer (CEO) of the IT consultancy Multisys.
But anywhere access to your data means there are risks concerning the privacy and security. Your data is also vulnerable to cybercriminals. The annual Norton Cybercrime Report estimates online crime cost the world economy an estimated $114 billion last year with 1 in 7 web users being a victim.
Encryption keeps your data safe
Software like Syncdocs can encrypt cloud data. “The encryption takes place before your data is sent to the Cloud, so nothing sensitive ever leaves your PC or phone" says Donald Recsei, a director of Syncdocs, an Australian company that make encryption products. "This is done to keep private data private."
Syncdocs fixes this problem by automatically encrypting files stored online so that only specified users can access them. In the event of a Google account hack, the encrypted data is protected by military strength encryption; files are useless garbage to those without the key.
Recsei says encryption is especially important for companies that store financial data, personnel information, or trade secrets in the cloud application suites like Google Drive and Google Apps.
It can happen to individuals as well, as the Petraeus case sadly illustrates - even those who are more tech savvy than the CIA director.
In August, Mat Honan, a staff writer for the technology magazine "Wired," had his digital life stolen by hackers. His Twitter accounts, iPad, notebook and iPhone files, eight years' worth of emails and photos of his baby daughter were all stolen from his Apple iCloud account.
"Cloud storage providers have a lot of data on their servers and that makes it a tempting target for hackers," says Recsei, whose company has customers in 40 countries. “By automatically encrypting all sensitive material, Syncdocs gives individuals and businesses the confidence they need to take full advantage of the benefits of cloud computing.”
A cloudy future
Gartner, a consultancy, predicts cloud computing to grow tenfold over the next four years. If that happens, the demand for more data security will also grow as increasing amounts of sensitive data is stored.
"The problem with sensitive data is that you don't know that how sensitive it is until the security breach," says Whelmann. "But then it’s too late."
If you’re interested in cloud encryption, grab a free copy of Syncdocs from syncdocs.com