Monday, November 29, 2010

Think You Are Not Using the Cloud? Think Again...

Microsoft has a new ad campaign showing 3 people, all working different jobs, that are "in the cloud" when they get a request about their business idea.  While still at their day jobs, they work "in the cloud", submit a response, and quit their day jobs to launch their company.

Many people that I talk to say they are not interested in using "the cloud", several are not sure what it is, and still more don't think "the cloud" applies to them.

If you think you are not in "the cloud" think again.

If you answer "yes" to any of the following, a digital aspect of your life is in the "cloud":
1.  Do your friends use Google mail?  Then their emails to you and your responses back are in "the cloud".
2.  Do you or your friends use photo sharing sites such as Flickr?
3.  Are you on Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter?
4.  Do you blog or post comments on a blog?

This is not intended to be a comprehensive of list but to illustrate a point, I think it might be easier to list what is not in the cloud these days when it comes to consumer applications and information.

The lightning speed at which cloud computing services can ask for, collect, and store your information is amazing.  Even more amazing is the ability to collate information about you with other information in an instant to create a profile that can be scary smart about who you are and what you like to do.

This information, in the wrong hands, creates a risk that is not fully understood by consumers.

Recent case in point, it was recently discovered that if your friends on Facebook played the Farmville game, that not only was their Facebook ID information sold to marketing and ad agencies, but yours was as well, even if you do not play Farmville.

Do you remember reading anything about that in the customer agreement you read and signed via a checkbox?

Tips to Protect Yourself:
1.  Man or Woman of Mystery:  Limit the personal information you share about you online.  If you post your birthdate, avoid the year and place of birth.  Do not use full names of your kids when sharing photos or other information about them on social networking sites.

2.  Thief or Grandmom Rule:  Even with privacy and security settings on the highest settings, people have had their profiles compromised.  If you would not want a thief or your Grandmom to know something about you, keep it offline.

3.  Inspect Yourself:  Go to your favorite search engine and set up a search alert with your name in it  and your kids.  This will help you track any posts that you may want to clean up.

4.  Keep It Confidential:  Never email or send through social networking sites your personal details such as credit card, SSN, bank accounts, account numbers.

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