Privacy in the Cloud aka “Stranger Danger!”

Feb 21, 2014 | Data Privacy

Shortly after I was taught how to turn on a computer, I was taught that nothing on the computer is private.  My computer education went something like this:  learn to walk, learn to turn on the computer, learn to use a floppy disk, learn to write code.  Somewhere around the age of five years old is when I decided I didn’t want to learn how to write code and would rather play computer games.  (I <3 Mr. Robot!)  This is all part of growing up with a father that, as my family loving refers to, “does something with computers for a living”.  Thanks to my father, I’ve never had to send my computer to the repair shop.

I have easily taken for-granted that I grew up in a technology-friendly, security-focused environment.  As I have gotten older, I realize that not everyone understands computers like we did at home.  I realize this when I see people post their phone numbers or pictures of their children in front of the elementary school they attend.  It is great that so many moments can be shared with a million of your closest family and strangers, but what stands out to me in these situations is, “STRANGER-DANGER!”.

My first thought is usually, “why would you put this online for crazy people to see?!  You are putting your child in danger!”  In case this isn’t abundantly clear to anyone but me, a photo of your helpless child at the location where they can be found all day, every day, makes it simple for someone to hurt/kidnap/stalk/etc. your child.  When I bring this up in conversation, most people tell me that they believed one of two things: (1) security settings only allowed friends to see the pictures (clearly the settings failed); or (2) that I am an overly paranoid person and need to get a life.

I love my rose-colored glasses. But, bad people exist in the world.  Obviously, not everyone is bad, but if I understand statistics, the more exposure you have, the more likely you will cross paths with a bad person.  Why increase your chances of becoming a victim?

Around now is when I start sounding more paranoid, but if I am wrong, then why do houses and cars come with locks? Most people lock their houses, cars, and even bicycles. We don’t watch someone tie up a bike and think, “what a paranoid guy”.  Many of us were taught to use the “buddy system” and chose to walk in a well-lit area versus alone in a dark alley. People actively make choices to protect themselves and their belongings…because bad people exist.

My purpose in writing these blogs is to document my research on the “cloud”.  My ultimate goals are to inform people about the cloud including its uses, benefits, and dangers.  I plan to consolidate useful tips and share solutions I’ve developed.  Like anything new, there are issues that need to be resolved.  A lot of the issues are hidden and will appear only after trial and error.  I will hopefully predict some of these hidden issues.

Because issues will be addressed as they arise over time, I think it is best to approach this topic as a sort of day-to-day journal of progress.  I will update my findings as new developments come to the surface and I uncover more through research.

Before we begin this journey together, I feel that is important to have a realistic understanding of privacy on the computer and on the internet.  I also think it is important that I explain briefly why the cloud is important and how you use it.  Finally, I should arrive at my ultimate purpose of this blog and share my findings and opinions on how to best protect yourself in the cloud.  First, we need to go back in time to when I was five…