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The utterly horrifying reality of today’s consumer cloud services

I’ve got 6 Apple computers live at the moment along with 2 iPads and 3 iPhones.

I’d be seriously annoyed if they were lost or stolen.

But I’d be safe in the knowledge that the important stuff is stored on iCloud, DropBox, Box, Evernote, Google and Amazon.

I’d also be quietly confident of being able to nuke them via iCloud to protect any errant data stored on the devices (I try and keep everything in the cloud).

However I am not well prepared for someone logging into iCloud and nuking everything without my control.

That’s what happened to Mat Honan at Wired.

It’s worse, though: A hacker was able to nuke his devices (and ALL his backups/data) and then take control of a whole host of other services related to (or powered via) his Apple ID. (The hacker even deleted is Google account!)

He’s written up the whole experience. It is horrifying reading but I strongly recommend reading through the whole post to get the full picture.

The short story? Mat was completely failed by ‘social engineering’ — someone phoned up Apple and got access to his account that way.


By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

5 replies on “The utterly horrifying reality of today’s consumer cloud services”

I disagree.
Mat failed to read all the T&Cs, and also failed to backup his data to another destination apart from cloud based services.

Really, how hard is it to use time machine on a Mac anyway? With iTunes sync over WiFi, and the off the shelf availability of the Time Capsule, there is no excuse nowadays for losing the data.

But, what Apple et al are trying to do now is to make it ‘too easy’ to backup to the cloud. Local backup mechanisms are ‘too hard’ (although I think Apple nailed it with the Time Capsule).

So I think the summary should read that Mat was either taken in by the cloud hype, or too lazy to invest the time and money for memories which he can now not get back.

I feel for him, the photos he has lost are irreplaceable, hopefully, the Mac Mini which me mentioned was synced at some point with iCloud, and may have some of the photos on it.

As for me, it is easy for me to be so critical, because it has not happened to me yet, but Mat has done some good, he has made me check how my data is backed up, and the cloud is a part of the backup strategy, not all of it.

Phil I agree that it’s definitely “Mat’s Problem” — but I think the key issue is that the vast majority of people never bother to do anything other than click “next-next-finish”.

Unfortunately that points to a rather harsh learning experience. I see a lot of users finding out the hard way over this.

Also, maybe cloud providers need to review their service policies? e.g. deletion of data is not instant, or a snapshotting service with rollback.

Now if Apple added time machine functionality to iCloud, that would be a win.

I think a snapshotting service is definitely important. Or a moratorium on actually deleting the information. I think what’s astonished me is the reality that all that data can be deleted — pop! — in a second. Of course I know this. I’m a total geek. However I don’t think it should be that easy or simple.

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