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Online Storage: Security Risk Is Minimal

<i>InformationWeek</i> security reporter Thomas Claburn questions the security of online storage services. Do online storage services pose a grave security risk?

InformationWeek security reporter Thomas Claburn questions the security of online storage services. Do online storage services pose a grave security risk?I don't think so. I've been using iDisk (as part of Apple's iLife suite) for a little less than a year now, and enjoy the benefits tremendously. It's not only an online backup service, it also synchronizes files among several Macs, so my current files are kept in sync and available (whether I'm online or not at the time) wherever I happen to be.

Being a security-head, I used to recommend to friends that they not use services such as Mozy, Box.net, Carbonite, or iBackUp.

Now, as Tom points out in his post, HP's new service, dubbed Upline, is competitively priced. But he asks:

"But as the price of online storage declines, tempting more and more people to embrace the benefits of having an online remote backup, I have to wonder whether enough attention is being paid at these services to data security. (It seems like an appropriate worry with the commencement of the RSA Conference this week.)

Now it may be that the major data security risk most people face is hard drive failure, in which case having an off-site backup of one's personal files is worth risking the more remote chance of a compromise in the cloud.

But data breaches are a fact of life and many organizations with sophisticated IT security practices have been victimized by even more sophisticated cybercriminals. It's naive to think that consumer-oriented data storage services might be somehow immune.


He has a good point. Nothing is immune, or invulnerable, to attack. But, I'd bet -- especially for those services that charge a reasonable fee -- that these services are far, far more secure than the average hard-drive on an Internet-connected PC. In fact, it's probably more secure than the vast majority of PCs. Yet, because it's such a trove of data, it's also a big, humungo target.

Nonetheless, I feel safe using these services. And if you're really concerned, you can use your own encryption on sensitive files.

About the Author(s)

George V. Hulme, Contributing Writer

An award winning writer and journalist, for more than 20 years George Hulme has written about business, technology, and IT security topics. He currently freelances for a wide range of publications, and is security blogger at InformationWeek.com.

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