Security's Everyman

Security's Everyman

Thursday, July 03, 2008

No silver lining behind these clouds

Although I'm not a official "Web Worker" I subscribe to the Web Worker Daily RSS feed. They often have good tips and hints that make online life a little easier. Today they have a post about Online document services such as Google Docs. As cloud computing becomes more and more popular there are more and more services coming online and there are more and more documents being stored in the cloud. I have a Google Docs account and have a few things out there but not much and nothing that I would consider personal or sensitive. I doubt that I ever will put anything of that nature out there. I just don't trust the model.

The WWD article focuses on the privacy policy of 3 of the most popular services, Google Docs, Zoho, and They are curious what each has to say about privacy, document ownership and such. Actually it's pretty scary when you read the "highlights" that the article mentions. Once again Google scares the bejesus out of me with their policy. When I read something like this it makes me like Google less and less even though I still use their services for things such as this blog and my RSS reader. As I mentioned I also have a Google Docs account, a Gmail account and a  Google calendar. I rarely use the last 3 any more. I just can't quiet bring myself to use them regularly. Oh yeah, I also have a YouTube account and probably another thing or two that Google now owns. I think that if I were to look into really using a free online document service I'd have to give serious consideration to Zoho over Google or I don't like what I see in the privacy policy of those two. Of course I haven't read all of the policies for any of them so I may not like any of them.

These things scare me for other reasons also. Lack of control over what happens to them. The fact that they are in the cloud means that there is more opportunity for others to get to them and either steal them or alter them. Not to mention that even though I'm very cautious I'm still human and still make mistakes from time to time. I'd hate to put something sensitive or personal out there and forget to mark it private. Do a Google search (there's another one I use all the time) for public calendar events or docs and see what you find. It will make you shake your head in wonder of what you will find. I guarantee most of those were never meant to be seen by the general public. They are there because of a mistake made by a person.

Anything online has it's inherent security weaknesses. It's still the Internet and no matter how secure you try to make it there are those who will prove you wrong. In my opinion personal, sensitive and business related data does not belong in the cloud.

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