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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Russia and China REALLY Want You to Back Up Your Files to The Cloud

There is a fine line between paranoia and plain stupidity. Sure, it sounds like a jim-cracking-dandy good idea to back up your files to the firms advertising on talk radio. Insure those priceless photos and your address book for less than $5 per month. What could go wrong? Two options give me a little heartburn.

First, read the privacy policy and the terms of service of the backup service. Basically, they can screw up big time and your only recourse is a refund of the money you've paid them for the backup service. Not to mention the common disclaimer below:
[Vendor Name Here] will not disclose Your personal information, including the contents of Your Account, to third parties unless disclosure is necessary to comply with the law.
I'm not planning to engage in illegal activities, but it's not like I trust Big Brother, either.

Second, a more troubling story appeared today in Computerworld (read it here). They report a "Russian forensic firm's tool" can access iCloud backups. To my mind, this "data exhaust" presents the very real possibility that foreign governments and/or crooks have targeted all the cloud backup firms with BPTs (that's Brilliant Persistent Threats) designed to let them troll all privately stored files. The same reason several governments will not buy computer equipment from China-based companies like Huawei and Lenovo ought to be reason enough for those same governments to forbid their employees to use cloud backup services: competition, foreign governments, or mere thieves will find a way to monetize your data assets. Guaranteed.

And speaking about guarantees, I have yet to see any cloud backup services advertise significant insurance for losses you might incur due to your files being grabbed by The Bad Guys. Quite to the contrary, their terms of service agreement has you pretty thoroughly indemnifying them from any responsibility for protecting your data.

Paranoia vs. stupidity. Hey, disk storage devices and fire safes are dirt cheap. Buy your own backup.

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Implementation suggestions for THE MORGAN DOCTRINE are most welcome. What are the "Got'chas!"? What questions would some future Cyber Privateering Czar have to answer about this in a Senate confirmation hearing?