In today’s cloud you need a local backup

Over an early-morning cup of coffee, I read an op-ed piece in the the New York Times by Jonathan Zittrain, author of The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It (a book I read last year).

Zittrain’s op-ed is thought-provoking as it discusses a range of issues that are very much in the news at the moment, from the theft of Twitter documents from their locations in the cloud to Amazon remote-deleting e-books directly from people’s Kindles.

In focusing on the Twitter case in particular, Zittrain echoes what just about every reporter, commentator and pundit has been saying – the major issue concerns security of access to your content when its ‘out there’ in the cloud.

[…] Data stored online has less privacy protection both in practice and under the law. A hacker recently guessed the password to the personal e-mail account of a Twitter employee, and was thus able to extract the employee’s Google password. That in turn compromised a trove of Twitter’s corporate documents stored too conveniently in the cloud. Before, the bad guys usually needed to get their hands on people’s computers to see their secrets; in today’s cloud all you need is a password.

The bold text in the last sentence is my emphasis.

But is that really all you need?

In commenting on the Amazon Kindle kerfuffle, one thing the FT’s Richard Waters says especially caught my eye:

With no local storage, nothing can ever be owned, only rented.

No, what you need is a copy of everything, a backup, away from the cloud. At least, until you can trust anyone whose service you use for storing or sharing things that are important to you.

And even then, I’d want a copy of everything.

Meanwhile, make sure you have a strong password for the cloud.

[Photo by Chad Johnson, used under his CC license.]