How to Wreck Your Internet Company in 4 Short Hours

The news that Dropbox managed to run for four hours yesterday with all of its shields down is shocking. Everyone watching cloud computing is waiting for The Big One, that catastrophic data compromise that causes even non-geeks to say holy shit. While it hasn’t happened yet, between the Sony debacle and Dropbox yesterday, I think we are getting closer. I’m not sure if it is a function of the state of Internet security, so much as it is our increasing trust and reliance to put really sensitive stuff out there.

One thing is for certain, the stakes are only going up as The Cloud (and iCloud) goes mainstream. So does this change the way I am going to use web based storage? Not really. The huge benefits I receive from cloud syncing make it worth the risk. Nevertheless, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself:

  1. Lock up those online accounts with a strong password, not pencil;
  2. Change your online passwords. I change mine every time the clocks change;
  3. Don’t be stupid about what you store up there. Database of 1970’s baseball cards = Yes. Scanned tax returns = no.
  4. If you upload anything sensitive, encrypt it yourself first on your Mac. I wrote about it in the book and there are a lot of online tutorials out there explaining how to do it.

So in response to this latest problem am I going to run out and cancel my Dropbox account? No. I think Dropbox learned its lesson. (At least this lesson). I still think, however, we are not far from The Big One.

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