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How Secure Is Your Data?.
12 May 2011
Several incidents in the last few weeks have highlighted how important it is for online data to be kept secure. The iPhone tracking file, the Sony PlayStation Network data theft, and most recently, the downtime experienced by many websites due to the fault in Amazon's EC2 cloud computing service. The iPhone incident, where a file that tracked the iPhone's location was found to be downloaded on to a synced computer and allowed a user to map exactly where they'd been whenever their phone was on, was a storm in a teacup, as reported on this blog (http://www.epiphanysearch.co.uk/blog/get-your-tinfoil-hats-on-apple-is-tracking-you/). The theft of millions of user details from Sony is a high-profile example of how important it is for big companies to ensure their data is safe. The damage to a company's reputation can be irreconcilable, and Sony has also now announced that an additional 25 million user details have ben stolen from their Sony Online Entertainment service. Industries like Sony's rely heavily on brand loyalty, and this latest data loss may send even more users into the arms of their competitors.
Now even Amazon, the biggest online retailer, has caused a stir. Last week its EC2 service, which hosts information used by many third party websites, went down, causing websites such as Foursquare, Quora and Reddit to also go down. The reliance on cloud services like EC2, where data is hosted away from the main website, should reduce cost and (ideally) increase reliability. For many web businesses, a lot of their running costs are in storage and bandwidth, so being able to rely on a service like Amazon's EC2 is a great help. However, it can all come crashing down if the service stops working. So what should we do to protect ourselves? Our reliance on these services, and the security that underpins it, has been exposed by these incidents, and although it's impossible to think that people will suddenly stop using these services, it's certainly caused a few people to sit up and pay attention.