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Cloudy With A Chance Of Leak-Balls: Should We Up Our Cyber-Security After #Election2016?

28/11/2016 16:38

It happened. Donald Trump is President-elect of the USA. Soon he'll be sworn in, and hopefully sworn at from the sidelines. The only people who'll benefit are the previous 43 presidents, who have all been bumped down a place on any 'Worst Presidents of All Time' list. The rest of us are doomed, perhaps with under four years to live.

There are several reasons this happened, but one has haunted me most: Hillary Clinton's leaked emails. Since the "scandal" broke, I've become terrified of hacking. This isn't because I may run for President myself (#SLH2020), but because the vulnerability of the Clinton campaign's email accounts bodes badly for the rest of us.

As you probably know, hackers, allegedly from Russia, gained access to tens of thousands of emails from Clinton campaign chief John Podesta's account and sent them over to Wikileaks. This helped Clinton lose the election, putting the fate of the world into Trump's tiny, pussy-grabbing hands. So if a cyber security breach can derail human history, maybe we should all be taking more care online.

What cyber security threats do we face?

Other than resetting our passwords whenever we forget them, chances are most of us don't often think about online security. But maybe we should. IT Governance says 98% of web apps are vulnerable to attack, and online bank fraud increases 48% annually.

Online bank fraud happens mostly through phishing, which is also how Podesta's account was apparently hacked. A sophisticated email purporting to be from Google, asked the campaign chief to change his password. Podesta clicked the link, entered his password, and now we're set for what may be the worst four years in American history.

The link, you see, led him to a fake version of Google that sent his login details straight to the hackers. Phishing.org says over 1 billion phishing emails are sent daily. So if you happen to open one, make like Princess Zelda and get away from that Link.

Aside from phishing, the other potential threat to our day-to-day internet usage is an entity so ominous it deserves a determiner: The Cloud. As parodied in the disappointingly clean movie Sex Tape, no one really understands The Cloud, so placing our data in the care of this unknown entity feels dangerous.

Business Insider reports that many people are using the cloud without even knowing it. Even Clinton's emails were backed up on a cloud server, without her knowledge, and against her team's instructions.

Businesses in particular have been migrating their services cloudwards, with approximately 90% of businesses using the cloud in some way. Some businesses are even using the cloud for accounting. 3 Wise Bears argue that cloud accounting makes sense for small businesses and startups, and these businesses clearly feel this is safe or they would never entrust their most sensitive information to the cloud's fluffy hands.

What can we do to keep our online data safe?

According to recent figures, there is currently one exabyte of data stored in the cloud from businesses and private users. That's over one billion gigabytes--approximately the same amount of room you'd need on your hard drive to download every episode of The Simpsons.

So how do we keep this Springfield-load of data safe? Despite fears about this new technology, it's unclear whether cloud servers are actually more vulnerable than regular servers. David Linthichum of Info World seems sick and tired of people asking him about cloud security. To anyone who still dares to ask, he says this: "Your data is only as vulnerable as your security protocols, cloud or not."

Linthichum's statement seems to put the ball of responsibility firmly in our courts, but it may be very difficult to play the cyber security game. Aside from avoiding phishing like a nimble trout and setting passwords stronger than a week-old brie, there really isn't much we laymen can do.

All your email data is stored in a server owned and operated by your service provider. "Cloud or not," you still have to trust our shadowy Silicon Valley overlords to keep your emails safe from (alleged) Russians. Google, Microsoft or AOL are likely to be the ones keeping tabs on your inbox, while files in the cloud are stored courtesy of Google (again), Dropbox, or whichever cloud service you are using.

If you don't trust Google, the only way to be sure your emails are safe from hackers is to use your own private server, which should cause you no problems at all. Unless you've got an eye on the presidency, that is...

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