Explaining the 'Cloud'

Created date

October 14th, 2014

Recently, you may have noticed a lot of hullabaloo surrounding the “cloud.” What is it?  What does it do? 

The truth is, it’s not nearly as fancy or complicated as it may sound. “Cloud computing” is just a way to store and access data from the Internet, not a hard drive connected to your computer. This type of computing relies on a network of servers that act as a storage facility.   

What’s the big deal?

For dozens of years, people and businesses were saving all their files to hard drives—tangible boxes that sit on desks. Today, data is often stored on remote servers, often hundreds of miles away. Think of email. It can be accessed anywhere at any time from any device. Email is one of the most basic examples of cloud computing.  

With the multitude of devices people use these days, cloud computing has become extremely beneficial. Pictures taken on a phone can be accessed and viewed on a tablet or even a desktop computer. Music stored on a home computer can easily be played on any mobile device. 

Businesses can also utilize cloud computing for larger benefits, including faster machine performance, unlimited storage, and easier collaboration. However, some privacy concerns have been raised about using the cloud. Recently, several A-List actresses’ private iCloud accounts were hacked. Private photos, texts containing financial information, and even deleted files were compromised.  

Is my information safe?

This high profile violation has even become a federal investigation and raised new questions for the general public about cyber security. While it has not been confirmed that Apple is at fault for the breach, security experts believe that the thefts could have been avoided if additional measures were taken.  

In March 2014, Apple introduced a new two-step authentication process to tighten iCloud’s security. This feature requires users to enter their username and private password, as well as an additional four-digit code that is received via text message. If you are concerned about the security of your files, you should also update your Apple ID password. This password will let you access the entire cloud, including photos, emails, and contacts. Also, use a security question that will be difficult for hackers to guess or obtain. Questions such as “your mother’s maiden name” or “name of your high school” can be easily discovered by almost anyone.  

What’s the bottom line?

The other important thing to be aware of is how the apps you download are transmitting information. Some apps transmit information such as geographic location, texts, or photos even while running in the background. As an extra precaution, you can control the settings on these apps and turn off their ability to track whereabouts or their ability to connect to the cloud at all. The long and short of it is, the potential for information to be compromised on the cloud is there, but the likelihood of it happening (especially if preventive action is taken) is slim to none.