Latest Leaks Shoot Holes in the Cloud

Over the Labor Day weekend a hacker released dozens of photos taken from various celebrity’s personnel databases exposing a vulnerability in the move to cloud based data storage.

Victims of the hacking ranged from singers to models to actresses to athletes.

Within hours of the release the internet was abuzz with news of the latest celebrity hacking with some people denying that the photos were them and others admitting that the photos were of them and threatening legal action for their release.

Of course once anything is let out of the internet bag and released for all to see it never really goes away and can be found in some dark corner somewhere meaning that the violation of privacy never really goes away.

Among the victims of the release was Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander who is now facing questions about photos with his girlfriend, Kate Upton, instead of being completely focused on the race to the postseason.

To his credit Verlander stated that he does not let things like this distract him when he is pitching but it is hard to believe that someone could totally tune out such a violation of privacy.

And make no mistake it is a complete violation of each of the hacked celebrity’s privacy that the information and photos that they considered private was released for the world to see.

While celebrities are public figures they still have just as much of a right as the rest of us to keep aspects of their lives private and to choose what to share with the public.

It used to be that if an individual or a a company had data  to protect they would lock them away in a safe or vault.  Photo R. Anderson

It used to be that if an individual or a a company had data to protect they would lock it away in a safe or vault.
Photo R. Anderson

This is certainly not the first instance of celebrities having their photos released and it will certainly not be the last in this digital age in which we find ourselves.

And while such celebrity hackings make the headlines each day, there are likely thousands of lower level hackings that occur whether through individuals cracking a cloud account, or data breaches of consumer credit card data showing how fragile each of our identities really are.

Earlier this week it was revealed that shoppers of a certain depot for the home may have had their information leaked. This follows credit card breaches at a variety of retailers this year from Target to Albertson’s and many in between.

This is not to say that computer networks are not safe, or that hacking is anything new, but a move to computerized systems makes it much easier for someone to succeed.

Consider if you will the world as it was before the internet and the cloud. If a company had data to protect they would lock it away in a safe or vault. And if they wanted to ensure that the information was secure in the event that the vault was swallowed up by a giant sink hole or other unforeseen disaster, they would store a copy in a second vault for redundancy.

The vaults that hold the recipes for Coca Cola and Colonel Sander’s 11 secret herbs and spices for fired chicken are still safe to the best of my knowledge in their vaults.

I am not pointing this out to make you thirsty for a soda and some chicken but merely to observe that in this store everything in the cloud world sometimes low tech solutions are the best.

In many science fiction movies such as the Terminator and Matrix franchises the future is depicted as one where the machines have taken over and mankind is left to fight the technology that they created. Photo R. Anderson

In many science fiction movies such as the Terminator and Matrix franchises the future is depicted as one where the machines have taken over and mankind is left to fight the technology that they created.
Photo R. Anderson

While someone might have needed to crack a safe to steal sensitive information in the past, with the information superhighway one need only an internet connection and some time to crack even the most sophisticated computer systems.

While I am not advocating that we all trade in our cars for a horse and buggy and shun all technology, there is something to be said for not putting one’s trust in electronic systems that can fail.

In many science fiction movies, such as the Terminator and Matrix franchises, the future is depicted as one where the machines have taken over and mankind is left to fight the technology that they created.

I do not foresee a future where Neo and John Connor need to save the human race from robots, but I do see a future where perhaps someone needs to save society from their faith in the cloud.

The last time I looked at a cloud in the sky I did not think wow a cloud looks like the strongest structure there is for storing my important information. Instead I saw the cloud for what it was a fluffy floaty thing that traveled at the whims of the wind and sometimes was shaped like a bunny rabbit. Photo R. Anderson

The last time I looked at a cloud in the sky I did not think wow a cloud looks like the strongest structure there is for storing my important information. Instead I saw the cloud for what it was a fluffy floaty thing that traveled at the whims of the wind and sometimes was shaped like a bunny rabbit.
Photo R. Anderson

Perhaps it should not be a shock that, despite the best efforts of many smart computer programmers and security firms, the cloud seems to be porous and an easy target for hackers.

The last time I looked at a cloud in the sky I did not think “wow, a cloud looks like the strongest structure there is.”

Instead I saw the cloud for what it was a fluffy floaty thing that traveled at the whims of the wind that sometimes was shaped like a bunny rabbit and sometimes got dark and made me wet on the way to my car.

Does that really sound like the most secure place to put your most private data and vacation photos?

Perhaps a certain commercial for an auto insurance company had it right and the wall where we post our photos should be made of stucco and not binary code.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I am going to go stare at some fluffy clouds and see what shapes they make.

Copyright 2014 R. Anderson

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