The Top 5 things you can do to protect the privacy of Cloud Data

If you had not noticed, there has been a lot of controversy about the recent discovery that companies or individuals are prone to having their activities monitored by the US intelligence services. This is allegedly done under the code name PRISM and again allegedly involves some deep integration with large cloud companies, although many are denying the extent of their participation and service integration.

If the rumours are to be believe then everything from Google through to Skype and full blown Windows OS may have some snooping capability built in.

So what can you do to protect yourself? Below are the top 5 things you should,consider as a company and as an individual:

1. Run your own Private Data Cloud: We have been promoting this for a while with the SME Cloud Appliance. Install your own Cloud File Server, use it with your own data, and auditing / governance monitoring, from desktop and mobile clients. It’s behind your firewall and its under your control. In short own your own data.

2. Encrypt your data. If you have to use public cloud services encrypt your data. SME provides streamed 256 bit SHA-1 AES encryption in which you keep the private key. It’s not anywhere on our SaaS service and of,course if you use the SME on-premise appliance then you have total control. Additionally consider desktop encryptors such as TrueCrypt and BoxCryptor.

3. Consider an alternative non tracking search engine such as DuckDuckGo. This enables anonymous searching and offers other privacy features.

4. Consider using an anonymous proxy that hides your IP address. Tor (originally short for The Onion Router)is free software, available for desktop and mobile clients, for enabling online anonymity. Tor directs Internet traffic through a free, worldwide volunteer network consisting of thousands of relays to conceal a user’s location or usage from anyone conducting network surveillance or traffic analysis.

Also don’t forget that there are many ways to identify you, even if the IP address is ‘randomized’. Either Delete your browser cache, history and cookies etc or consider using anonymous browser sessions or extensions or add-ins that prevent browser cookies or tracking.

5. Consider the locality of your data. If you are in the UK or EU do you really want your data hosted in the US and subject to the Patriot Act. If you are in the US (or anywhere in the world) consider point 2 strongly. Private Cloud can offer just as many benefits as public cloud.

An often trotted out phrase is that “if you are doing nothing wrong you have nothing to fear”. With that simple phrase vanish personal freedoms and liberties built up over hundreds of years from the likes of Thomas Paine onwards.

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New Research points to Data Deluge

A recent study by the University of California in San Diego called “How much information?” points to the speed of modern life as being 2.3 words per second, or about 100,000 words per day.

Due to emails, texting, internet surfing, RSS, reading, and other media we are being deluged by more and more information, in fact the equivalence of 34 gigabytes of information each day.

Here at SMEStorage, we are not surprised. We see and hear everyday from our users how much information they have to process and store. This information is not stored in one place. It is in email, in instant messages, on social sites, on different free storage clouds, on RSS and more.

It was this realisation that led to us creating our virtualised cloud storage platform which ties together a view of data held on email, data clouds, and social storage clouds, enabling you to view, manage, and share this data from one file tree.

It is clear that the volume of data a user has access to and has to manage will only get worse, not better. To this end, our comittment is that we will continue to broaden our services to support more data, social, and other more non traditional data stores.

We’ll continue to provide innovative features and services, such as our unique Cloud-to-Cloud sync, and we have some great things coming up for 2010, so watch this space !

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What happens to the data when an online storage site closes?

There was an interesting post on PC World recently that asks the question “What happens to the data when an online storage site closes?”. After all two of the main reasons for offline storage are for backup and for access.
What we are starting to see happen in the world of online storage is consolidation and of course the non sustainability of ‘free’ business models. As the article states, “Online storage services that have announced closings in the past ten months include big names in tech: AOL (Xdrive and AOL Pictures), Hewlett-Packard (Upline), Sony (Image Station), and Yahoo (Briefcase). Plenty of lesser-known online storage firms also have kicked the bucket, including Digital Railroad and Streamload MediaMax, which turned into The Linkup.”

One of the reasons we never used proprietary storage services for SMEStorage is that, ultimately, it is very difficult to keep up with the big guys in terms of price. Just look at Amazon. They are the 1oo pound gorilla of being able to sell at a high volume for low margin.

At SMEStorage we have concentrated on providing interoperability with best-of-breed Storage providers and building value services over and above this. For example things such as clients for different platforms, integrations with the best-of-breed Web 2.0, Desktop and social media tools. Innovations such as Email-backup-to-storage, and the ability to move data about from one storage provider to another. Or even have a real-time Cloud Data Backup which, if the primary provider disappears, will have kept the data in sync and available with a secondary provider. Key to this is that you own your data, not us.

If you are using our free Amazon S3 service we give you 250MB, but even using these you are free at any time to export it to any other provider you want at any time, including our other free services such as email-as-a-cloud or gmail-as-a-cloud, but of course you still own the account and therefore the data.

We believe that the most valuable thing is your data and we will keep doing all we can to help you keep it safe, accessible, and available.

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