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Summary:

Not everyone is enamored of the notion of cloud computing. Count Apple co-founder and tech icon Steve Wozniak among the skeptics. Woz worries that consumers putting their information into the cloud sign away their rights to it. “I want to own things,” he said.

Steve Wozniak

Cloud computing is obviously here to stay, but that doesn’t mean all of us like the idea of putting our personal data onto what is essentially a shared resource beyond our control. No less a tech icon than Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak expressed his reservations on this topic this weekend.

“I really worry about everything going to the cloud,” Wozniak told attendees of a performance of  Mike Daisey’s “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” Saturday in Washington D.C., according to a report in Phys.org. “I think it’s going to be horrendous. I think there are going to be a lot of horrible problems in the next five years.”

Wozniak, who is now chief scientist of Fusion.io,  went on to say:

With the cloud, you don’t own anything. You already signed it away through the legalistic terms of service with a cloud provider that computer users must agree to. I want to feel that I own things …  A lot of people feel, ‘Oh, everything is really on my computer,’ but I say the more we transfer everything onto the web, onto the cloud, the less we’re going to have control over it.

Former Gizmodo staff writer Mat Honan would probably agree. Honan’s iCloud account was accessed by hackers using the distinctly non-techie but highly effective technique of social engineering. The unknown culprit duped an Apple support staffer into thinking he was Honan and the rest is history — Honan lost access to his iPhone, his Macbook, all his devices, as outlined in Honan’s blog post about his own personal nightmare.

In Honan’s own words: “In short, someone gained entry to my iCloud account, used it to remote wipe all of my devices, and get entry into other accounts too.”

That is the nightmare scenario — losing access to your personal stuff and worse, knowing that someone else has that access — that keeps cloud skeptics, including Woz, up at night.

Photo courtesy of  Flickr user gloomcheng

  1. In terms of *consumer-oriented* Cloud services, I tend to agree with Mr. Wozniak. I’m a Cloud Architect for a major IT company, yet I own, and will always own my own NAS at home for personal file storage…but I do use an off-site backup service (I know the company well and trust their architecture and security with my back-ups).

    That being said, for corporate environments, I am all in favor of using PRIVATE or HYBRID Clouds when appropriate.

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  2. How come you are so sure that you money is safe in the bank. A burglary is always on the cards. So what makes your data so different. People are operating Bank lockers for eternity now and same would happen to the cloud in times to come. The very idea of being open and social brings the caveat of risk with it but I believe the price is worth it. Anyways the sense of ownership is no longer there in the modern era, people are comfortable living in rented apartments, driving rented cars. Gives them the liberty to live with the changing times.

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  3. Rights, Security, Well Being and Integrity. All gone. And what with all the hacking problems that Apple is having with iTunes, iCloud is a dumb move. Especially when personal storage and security is reaching its apex.

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  4. I have to admit that the more I hear Wozniak comment on technology, the more he erodes his image in my view. Things evolve and change, and while change brings challenge, it doesn’t mean it’s better or worse, just different.

    Then again, this is a guy who brings a backpack of gadgets everywhere he goes. Who needs all of that crap at all times?

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  5. 30 years ago I put together some thoughts on paper that are, and with the guidance of rational thought are actually panning out. The title “The Future of Money.’

    Working for one of the top system builders and integrators globally, that proposed building these phantom entities to perform the straight management of the content ,but also make sure that ONLY safe and highly security access would happen . ALL layers of the construct took ‘trust’ from the construct layers around it never depended on a single guardian. As one moved up thru the trust chain, those guardian dependencies grew smaller until only one was last.. -You- . Without you, ALL OF YOU, the trust chain could live on indefinitely, yet never be accessed .. Can’t be hacked; can’t be compromised with reason or fear; can’t be tortured to death; can’t be bribed or excoriated

    The puzzle awaits…

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  6. You won’t lose access to your personal stuff if you store it on your own hard drive as well as the cloud, and use two-factor authentication or encryption on your drive.

    Too much effort to do that? You might want to read Mat Honan’s post.

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  7. I think the mistake is to think we’ll ever “trust” Cloud services, or that they will become “secure” or even regulated. The trick, I believe, is to find a way to make use of Cloud services even though you don’t trust them. Because, you can’t deny the cost benefits (e.g. the cost benefits of something like Salesforce versus an expensive on-premises system). By using a broker model (e.g. from companies like Vordel) you can broker your connection to Cloud services, and strip out private or sensitive data.

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  8. Centralized systems doomed to failure. Major internet outage (yes, your government/ISP can pull the plug off your connection anytime it wishes)

    Keep your data with you at all times. That’s what the corporations are doing (private cloud) and they have access to the smartest tech. and legal brains.

    Unless you’re the type who puts their life up on Facebook. Then you really shouldn’t care…

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  9. @Piyush How come you are so sure that you money is safe in the bank. A burglary is always on the cards. So what makes your data so different

    Apples to oranges my friend.

    Your money is irrecognizable from my money and therefore is replaceable / interchangeable. A bank can make you whole by replacing “your” stolen money with “their” money and you wouldn’t know the difference.

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