While “the cloud” may be the tech buzzword of the year, many Americans remain foggy about what the cloud really is and how it works. A new national survey by Wakefield Research, commissioned by Citrix, showed that most respondents believe the cloud is related to weather, while some referred to pillows, drugs and toilet paper. Those in the know claim working from home in their “birthday suit” is the cloud’s greatest advantage. The good news is that even those that don’t know exactly what the cloud is recognize its economic benefits and think the cloud is a catalyst for small business growth.
Considering the difficulty people have with other technology-related terminology and concepts (one of many possible examples: the internet is a series of tubes), this doesn’t surprise me at all.
Digital goods have costs.
I’m not talking here about just things like the cost of electricity, which should be enough on its own to disabuse idealists of their vacuous notions of what makes the world go around. I analyzed this at length in another post earlier this year. Even beyond just their power requirements, digital goods have particular traits that make them difficult to store effectively, challenging to distribute well, and much more effective when handled by paid professionals.
I don’t know if this will be of use anyone but me, but I was trying to go over the Computers in Libraries sessions (both those I attended and those I didn’t) to find what I could of the presentation slides/handouts/blog posts and I was getting bogged down in links and files, so I made these lists of links. If anyone knows of stuff that could be on here that I missed, do let me know (use the ‘ask me anything’ link).
The largest cloud providers today are Google, Microsoft, and Amazon; each offering multiple services and platforms for their respective customers. For example, Microsoft Azure, Google Apps, and Amazon EC2 are all hosting and development platforms. Google Docs, Acrobat.com, and Microsoft Office 365 all provide basic word processing, spreadsheets and other applications for individuals to use via the web instead of on their individual desktops. Then, of course, there’s social networks, online gaming, and video and music sharing services — all of which rely on a hosted environment that can accommodate millions of users interacting from anywhere on earth, yet all connected somewhere in cyberspace. While the benefits are many, both to individuals and to corporations, there are three distinct disadvantages from an individual and national security perspective:
- The cloud provider is not responsible for securing its customers’ data.
- Attacking a cloud-based service provides an economy of scale to the attacker.
- Mining the cloud provides a treasure trove of information for domestic and foreign intelligence services.
Anyone who uses any sort of cloud service should pay special attention to that first point.
Serious implications for the typical internet user. Can’t say I’m surprised, though.
To all the other “aaS” providers out there, add this one: MaaS, for malware as a service. Yup, the bad guys have their own routines that can provide a one-stop, full-service shopping for fraudsters. How depressing is that?
Turns out, very depressing.
Here is how full service this industry has become. According to this report from Trusteer Research, it starts with offering infection services, including polymorphic encryption to get around the standard anti-virus scanners. Curiously, the MaaS guys run their business in much the same way that other SaaS and Web advertising businesses operate: you pay for unique addresses that receive the malware. Charges start at $20 for a week’s worth of service. Everything is charged pay-per-click, with prices depending on the amount of infections actually delivered. Money is returned if an AV checker actually catches the malware. Now that is comforting.
» via ReadWriteWeb
The company says its new e-books store is distinctive because titles purchased there will be stored online and accessible on a variety of devices, including Android and Apple tablets as well as smartphones, PCs and compatible e-readers including the Kobo, Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Sony’s Reader.
Amazon’s Kindle, however, won’t be compatible with titles bought at Google’s e-book store.
As we all use the internet to store more and more of our personal information, documents, music, etc., we need to be mindful of the risks involved and take measures to defend against hacking and other intrusions into our data.
… Her move to the cloud had coincided with the larger and irreversible shift of business, personal, governmental, and every other sort of activity to the cloud. The shift is irreversible because it brings so many advantages. Who would go back to searching for addresses on paper maps after using online mapping services? Needing to save and file canceled paper checks rather than inspecting them online, or doing a thousand other chores in pre-cloud form? In addition to these corporate and public services, whose users are increasingly conducting their business and storing their data in the cloud rather than on paper, our personal data has moved to the cloud as well, with the premise that we’ll be able to retrieve and work on our correspondence, our contacts, our photos and documents, from any computer connected to the Internet. But, of course, the more we rely on the cloud, the more we expose ourselves to its vulnerabilities. These include the breakdowns that affect any complex system. …
About two weeks ago, I wrote a little bit about the cloud-based ebook reading startup 24symbols. In case you missed it, the short version is that I’m skeptical of any sort of unlimited subscription model for ebooks in the United States, mainly due to problems with the ebook lending model in…
On Wednesday, Amazon released a new Web-based app called the Kindle Cloud Reader, which allows users to access their Kindle books and magazines from a range of mobile devices, including desktop computers, BlackBerry handsets and iPhones (take that, Apple!). The only stipulation: Your device has to be running Safari or Chrome… .
This is truly frightening.
Something happened to Dylan’s Google account, and it’s been disabled. He doesn’t know what happened to the account, and no one at Google with the power to help him is interested in acknowledging the problem or letting him back in to the cloud-based services where all of his correspondence and much of the digital trail from the last few years of his life is stored. Google doesn’t own Twitter, though (yet), and he has taken to Twitter to try to draw attention to his problem and urge anyone who will listen not to trust Google with their digital lives.
The cloud can be great but it requires Internet access and that is being actively throttled or capped by cell phone companies. But that is using 3G or cell networks to get your data. You can still hop on a wifi hotspot like at home and download data to your glutonous content. Oops not anymore, Pogue reports home data plans are starting to get capped. (I can attest to this, 4 months after we upped our home data plan and dumped Uverse for TV service but kept it for Internet, they are talking about capping data to home data hogs.)
My question is, “What if this had happened to another Google service?” Say, Google Docs? What if every document you wrote and saved on Wednesday was suddenly taken offline on Thursday, and you no longer had your presentation or your notes or your research for a client meeting today? How does this promise from Google sound now?
Personal music locker services are certainly an improvement on current industry services. By allowing music fans increased access to the content they already own, services like Amazon’s and Google’s improve consumers’ music experiences by making it easier to listen to that music where and whenever they want.
But we’re a long way from realizing the potential of cloud-based music services, which could increase consumers’ access to music they already own while offering new ways to find and purchase music and other add-on content from artists.