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Just When You Thought it Was Safe . . .

Robert Regis Hyle | September 08, 2014

When my mother died, my siblings assigned me the task of sorting through thousands of old photographs and distributing anything of real sentimental value. It was a classic data dump and, seven years later, I’m still going through them all.

My brother-in-law worked for years for a record distributor and has thousands of vinyl discs stored in his house that he rarely, if ever, plays on what used to be known as a turntable.

Both these issues have been solved in the 21st century thanks to the cloud. I guess.

A certain Oscar-winning actress might disagree with that statement because photographs, and, to a much lesser extent, music are not as safe in the cloud as we once thought.

Of course, this is the public cloud. Companies have been avoiding that area from the start in favor of private cloud offerings and while the private cloud is much safer for business data, no one is foolish enough to believe anything is truly safe these days.

The Target story of late 2013 is history, replaced by the Home Depot story of the summer of 2014. There will be another story involving a major retailer in 2015 and yet another in 2016. Who it will be doesn’t really matter. The only certainty is there will be a story about a data breach and the account information for millions of shoppers will be endangered.

We live in a world that values convenience. Everything is easier to do today than it was 20 years ago, with one exception. That exception is security. We say we value security and we demand it of the companies we do business with. We laugh about the troglodytes that choose to live their lives like those who lived in the 1950s when “credit” might be offered by the local bank to a business or homeowner, but not to everyone who had a job.

We can’t and certainly shouldn’t go back to those days, but one has to wonder how simple life would be if we didn’t have to worry that our personal and private information wasn’t at risk from the people we do business with.

Are there lessons to learn from the cloud and security breaches of the past few weeks? Keep your clothes on when taking photographs is an easy lesson, but unless you want to carry pockets full of cash every time you go shopping—itself a pretty big security issue—try to limit the amount of information you share with retailers and the number of credit cards you own.

Insurers are keeping a constant eye on their security issues, because there is no guarantee they are safe from attacks. The only guarantee is someone will be attacked yet again and the attack is likely already in progress.

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