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  1. #1
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    Cloud Computing 101

    I've long thought cloud computing sounds very useful and exciting, but I've never actually given it a spin yet. I really prefer to work with files that are safe and secure on my local hard drive.

    However, I just read an article touting tthe benefits of cloud computing, which include security. If someone steals your cloudbook, they'll get no files if the documents you've been working on are all online. When you get home, just change your online passwords, and you're safe.

    With that in mind, where does one begin? What cloud services do you use or recommend? I'd be priimarily interested in word processing, but it would be cool if it was possible to work with Dreamweaver and Photoshop online.

    A relatd question: If someone steals your cloudbook, they'd still have access to your browsers and e-mail clients, with all their passwords. Does anyone have any tips for protecting passwords. Can you somehow rig a netbook so that the browsers would automatically uninstall or purge their passwords if someone tried other than the owner tried to use them?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Follow Me On Twitter: @djg gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Grossman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by geosite View Post
    However, I just read an article touting tthe benefits of cloud computing, which include security.
    I would consider security one of the strongest arguments against "cloud computing".

    All they need to steal all your online documents is steal your password (get a trojan on your computer, a phishing site, a cross-site scripting vulnerability, clickjacking attacks), guess your password, or find a vulnerability in the site which allows them access to everyone's documents.

    To steal your documents on your computer, they have to physically get your computer, which is a much bigger obstacle to some fraudster in Russia. Then they have to get through the security on your computer -- if someone steals my laptop, they have to defeat the fingerprint reader to log in, or defeat Windows Vista's BitLocker, which encrypts my entire hard drive to prevent accessing it even if the laptop is physically stolen.

    Adobe has an online version of Photoshop called Photoshop Express, but it's really stripped down to just enough to retouch photos. It's not competing with their desktop software. Google Docs for documents, spreadsheets and presentations. I've used the documents and presentations parts extensively while working on group projects for my graduate classes.

  3. #3
    100% Windoze-free earther's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Grossman View Post
    I would consider security one of the strongest arguments against "cloud computing".
    Agreed. But the lemmings will still jump of the cliff en masse in pursuit of the the next and greatest hype . . .

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    Quote Originally Posted by earther View Post
    Agreed. But the lemmings will still jump of the cliff en masse in pursuit of the the next and greatest hype . . .
    I have the best security there is - a Mac. (Or is Linux better?)

    But can any computer really be completely protected against high-tech thieves? I'm not a security expert, and I don't know many people who are, but IT security is like the arms race, with each side constantly one-upping the other.

    I would never trust any Windows version when it comes to security, no matter what the salesmen say.

    In the meantime, cloud computing is about far more than security, and I'm still interested in hearing what cloud features people find useful.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Guru rageh's Avatar
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    There are equally powerful pluses and minuses about cloud computing. The main problem is the security one. However, someone can still hack into your computer still in this age when there is always-on broadband connection, which is equivalent of leaving your door open to intruders.

    As long as you are connected to this network of all networks, i.e. the Internet, the secuirty problem is an ever-present challenge. How many times have we heard computer-savvy mafia coodinating attacks using the power of the computers of Internet users through their open broadband conections? In other words, the small trojan that has infected your computer can report back to its creators once it detects Internet connection. As more and more client trojans report the status of their host computers, the creator can potentially attack with all those horse power a computer system as powerful as the 'London Stock Exchange' or the 'Down Jones' with untold damages and theft. The corporate victims don't tell these attacks to the media because it could herald their downfall as shareholder confidence hit all time low. they may not even tell the police for the same reason. The mafia know this. These banks and financial houses they attack have vested interest to keep their mouth shut even though they are victims. So once you look things from this angle, one can argue that cloud computing offers more secure environement relatively speaking.

    In the plus side, the owner of a cloud computing facility knows all the dangers and security problems involved. He knows much more than the average computer users and can make safegaurds. It may not be perfect, but a damn good one. So given the benefits offered by cloud computing on the corporate level(I am talking about business owner hiring cloud resources instead of having to invest large amount of money buying IT resources and the maintenance which could add up to quite a massive bill).

    I would argue that cloud computing is more secure than we are lead to believe. and it is far more beneficial for small businesses with not much money. They can deploy computing resources instantly without having take on more staff and eqquipment. they can equally discontinue using the service without making loss.
    ------------------

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    Quote Originally Posted by rageh View Post
    There are equally powerful pluses and minuses about cloud computing. . . . However, someone can still hack into your computer still in this age when there is always-on broadband connection, which is equivalent of leaving your door open to intruders.
    Wow, interesting post. It might help me with some research I'm doing on a couple articles. And I thought I was the only one who applied the term "mafia" to corporate interests.

  7. #7
    Follow Me On Twitter: @djg gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Grossman's Avatar
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    He never referred to corporate interests as mafia. The mafia, as in criminal syndicates, really do use vulnerable computers as attack networks against corporations.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Grossman View Post
    The mafia, as in criminal syndicates..
    You may get it some day.


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