Why the “cloud” is actually safe.

For the sake of this blog post, I’ll be talking about the “cloud” as any service like iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, or others that sync your stuff from your Mac to another computer or website somewhere else in the world (usually America).

A question I get all the time from clients: “is the cloud safe?”

I usually say “yes and no. That depends on how you want to use it, how safe you want to be, and your knowledge and habits around staying safe.”

Here’s why it might seem unsafe: There’s a lot of fear and misunderstanding around the cloud because of some stories of things that happened in the media. Famous people had their nude photos leaked. Some big company had their system breached. People say they lost info because of the cloud.

The truth is these cases are extremely rare proportionally compared to the number of people who use a cloud. There are 100 million Macs in use in the world. There are 850 million people using iCloud. How many different news articles have you read, or stories have you heard, from people who have been “hacked”? Let’s say it’s ten. That means the chances of being hacked are 0.00000118%.

My belief is that most if not all “hacks” into famous peoples’ accounts are a result of someone close to them knowing their password. Someone they pissed off who holds a grudge and wants to hurt their reputation somehow. They may not even remember having given their password (or told their dog’s name and birth year!) to someone. If you have someone close to you who knows your password and wants to get back at you for something they think you did, I recommend changing your password. Any website or service that uses that password they know should be updated.

These days all the big cloud services have something called “two factor authentication.” Essentially that means even if some scoundrel knows or guesses your password and tries to get in to your account, once they type the password, they will see a screen that says “a 6 digit number has been sent to the cell phone on file. What is that 6 digit number?” And because that scoundrel’s cell number is not the one on your file, they won’t get the code. You will. Not only that, you will see this message on your iPhone saying someone is trying to log in… and you can be a savvy internet user and change your cloud password (or ask us for help to do this!).

All this to say, if you have your info in a cloud and you’ve set things up correctly and someone wants to get in, here’s what circumstances would need to be present for them to get in:

The intruder would need to know your password. They would need to be holding your iPhone to receive the 6 digit number. They would need to type it. And they would need some kind of motive – some reason or some goal – for what to do with your personal info once they have it. AND you would need to somehow allow them to have your iPhone or you would need to be forced into this situation.

If you might get into this kind of situation, you have bigger problems on hand and should probably put your personal info on a USB stick and hide it in an air duct.