Now that 2016 has come to an end, we can reflect on the turmoil from countless cyber security attacks to determine what we can expect in 2017. With a steady increase in concerns for our cyber security, people will begin to move away from the cloud to secure their data and provide their own solutions.
Yahoo uncovered another massive cyber attack, stating that more than 1 billion user accounts were compromised in August 2013, making it the largest breach in history, according to a new report. This is just one among many examples that is causing concern: Citizens, businesses and government agencies alike are seeing and experiencing hacks increasing at an alarming rate.
Armor cracks are becoming more and more apparent in the cloud, as providers such as Google are hit (what seems like daily) by hackers exploiting the cloud’s inherent vulnerabilities.
According to Cisco’s Global Cloud Index, in North America, the average user has seven devices connected to the internet. These armies of devices provide data to cloud services, sometimes without users’ knowledge.
In October, the largest provider of routing services for cloud-based devices, Dyn, suffered an attack, which maliciously routed all of its users’ traffic, including webcams and other devices, to specific websites, flooding them. I wrote about just such a problem in a patent submitted in 2015, but it is only when someone is attacked that these issues are taken seriously.
It was only after this attack that Scott Hilton, the EVP of product at Dyn, spoke about this threat.
“Not only has it [the Oct. 21, 2016, attack] highlighted vulnerabilities in the security of Internet of Things devices that need to be addressed,” he said, “but it has also sparked further dialogue in the internet infrastructure community about the future of the internet.”
That future, as I see it, is the end of people storing and sharing information via the cloud. As technology improves and empowers users, there’s going to be a mass exodus. Early adopters have already begun taking control of their data and storing it at home, using personal storage services and devices. The next logical technical step is to allow these home-based servers to provide the same services as remote clouds. The functionality and availability will remain, but the location will transition to homes and offices instead of cloud providers.
Last month, CNET reviewed home storage solutions that cost less than $100, making it affordable to store data locally in one’s own “Cloud in your Attic.”
Even the inventor of the world wide web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, said, “As people assert control over their data, the web will ‘re-decentralise,’ reducing dependency on technology giants, returning power to individuals and businesses and allowing developers a rich space for innovation.”
And who would know better than the man who got us all online?
The following factors have created a perfect storm for moving away from the cloud in the coming year:
There are just too many cooks in the kitchen: the cloud providers’ management teams, data management companies, server maintenance personnel, backup providers, and a host of other consultants and hardware/software teams that have direct or remote access to your data in the large cloud environments. The ability of these people and corporations to access all cloud-based services makes us incredibly vulnerable. The Snowden exposure was caused by just such a cook.
Some of the largest cloud providers have tried (and are failing) to maintain secure and highly available clouds. Call it what you like -- Google, Alphabet or Android -- but if the largest cloud company in the world can’t maintain their own data, how can you expect them to protect yours? In 2016, the CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, had his online Quora account compromised. If he is vulnerable, who isn’t? Certainly not the 5 million Google users who Time reported were hacked just a couple of years ago.
All data centers have tremendous carbon footprints and environmental problems. As businesses and individuals look toward more green solutions, the cloud may not be it. Although Google has recently announced that it will utilize 100 percent renewable energy in its data centers and offices in the next year, most providers can’t promise the same due to the availability of renewable energy at a reasonable cost. Also, the heat generated from the millions of servers has to go somewhere. Google maintains more than a million CPU cores itself. With climate change a threat to our planet, do we really want more server rooms cooking it?
As we weather the technical and security storms that mark our inexorable online future, I predict we will be seeing a lot more people securing their own data, email and services using their own “Clouds in their Attics,” and that truly secure personal servers are going to be top of mind next year.
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