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1 s Ask a Broadband Expert Series: Is Privacy a Cloud Illusion? By Rick Stiles, VP of Product Development StoAmigo North Point Parkway, Suite 25 Alpharetta, GA ZCorum.com TruVizion.com Facebook.ZCorum.com Twitter.com/ZCorum

2 What is the Cloud? With all the recent headlines and revelations about privacy and security of the cloud, users are becoming more and more concerned about what s happening to their files and who really has access to them. We wanted to share some important facts about the cloud that you may not be aware of. But first, let s define The Cloud. In the simplest terms, cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer s hard drive. This would obviously include cloud storage providers, but what some people don t realize is that the Cloud also includes service providers, photo and video sharing sites, and social media sites. With that in mind, here are five things you need to know about the Cloud:. Multiple copies are created in the Cloud Have you ever thought about the number of copies created for everything you put in the Cloud? Let s start with something as simple as sending an attachment. Most people tend to think they attach a file to an , send it to someone and that person opens it. However, there s much more to it. First, that file is in a folder on your computer. When you attach it to an , a copy is made in your program. Another copy is stored online by your service. They also make a backup copy. Then it goes to the inbox of the recipient and one or two copies are stored online before it is opened in the recipient s program, which makes another copy. If the recipient decides to keep it, he will save it somewhere on his computer. That s seven or eight copies right there. If he sends it to other people, the whole process gets repeated. The bottom line is there s no way for you to control the number of copies created, or how and where they are circulated. 2. Storing files on the Cloud may not be as private as you think Another often overlooked fact about the Cloud lies in the privacy policies of the cloud providers. Some services are more liberal than others about using and sharing your information. The privacy policies were not created to protect the users; these policies were created to protect the cloud providers. Many of the policies and terms-of-use conditions grant the cloud providers a broad license as to their usage and control over your media. Some even state that you are giving them exclusive rights to your files when you put your files on their systems. Here is a quote from the Terms of Service of a popular social media site: You hereby grant us and our contractors the right to use, modify, adapt, reproduce, distribute, display and disclose content posted on this service solely to the extent necessary to provide the service or as otherwise permitted by these terms. If you haven t read the privacy policies and Terms of Service of your cloud storage provider or favorite social media sites, you may be giving away copies of your files without knowing it.

3 3. Files don t always get deleted ZCorum 2 The next point we d like to share involves file deletion. Computer networking relies heavily on redundancy and backup capabilities to ensure the networks remain trouble free and provide quick access and navigation to files and stored media. Consequently it should come as no surprise that when we try to delete a file that s hosted on a web server, other copies almost certainly exist and will continue to do so. Many providers even state in their terms and conditions that copies of your media will remain on their servers and in their backup facilities after you ve deleted your originals. Here are excerpts from the published terms of some providers: It typically takes about one month to delete an account, but some information may remain in backup copies and logs. Please note that there might be latency in deleting information from our servers, and backed-up versions might exist after deletion. So remember, just because you don t see it anymore doesn t mean it s gone. 4. Where in the world are your files? The fourth thing you should know concerns the physical location of the files stored in the Cloud. All we know is that our media is on a provider s server, but we don t know where the servers are. The fact of the matter is that most services have multiple networks interconnected in various states and countries. It s literally impossible to tell exactly where your files are stored. Realizing that your media could potentially be stored anywhere, the next logical conclusion is that it will be subjected to and governed by differing rules and regulations, depending on the geographic location of the server hosting it. Rarely do consumers know where their files are stored, when they are moved to a different location, or how that may affect the security of their files. Did you know that most cloud storage providers don t actually have their own servers? You may agree to the privacy policy of your provider, but do you know what policies are in place for the company that owns the servers where your data is actually stored? It might be unclear if their policy is the same as your storage provider s, who can see your files and what your rights are in the end. The World Privacy Forum sums it up like this: Indeed, it may be impossible for a casual user to know in advance or with certainty which jurisdiction s law actually applies to information entrusted to a cloud provider. These uncertainties complicate the ability of a user to determine the protections that apply to data entrusted to a cloud provider. 2 World Privacy Forum, Privacy in the Clouds: Risks to Privacy and Confidentiality from Cloud Computing, 2009

4 3 5. Who has access to your files might surprise you Finally, one of the largest concerns is, Who has access to the files we store online? Not knowing where your media is coupled with the varying laws, rules and regulations governing it creates a number of very serious questions. Given some of the policy statements and terms of use we ve discussed, how can you be certain that your files are secure and not being accessed by someone you don t know and have not given permission to get into them? Privacy advocates have long been speaking out in regards to our rights to privacy for media and files we store on the internet. The general consensus among legal officials is that our rights to privacy don t typically apply to media stored outside of our home. The message is clear: the safest place to store your media is in the privacy of your own home. Putting your files on an unknown server in an unknown location is basically handing over control and ownership of your files. What s the alternative? As technology continues to evolve rapidly, policies and laws may lag behind. In the resulting state of uncertainty about our rights to privacy in the Cloud, keeping our files in our own possession is the safest course of action. Fortunately there are alternatives available that meet our need for privacy and our desire to have the convenience of cloud computing. The rise of the personal cloud A special category of products called personal cloud storage systems attempts to combine the best features of both Internet cloud storage and network attached storage devices like external hard drives or USB sticks. Instead of relying on remote data hosting, these systems support large amounts of local storage together with options for controlled online sharing. These personal cloud devices sit in your home or office and allow you to access and manage your files from anywhere. Personal cloud devices are a private and secure alternative to public cloud storage, replacing the network and cloud servers by hosting your media and keeping it in your possession. Services like StoAmigo create a personal cloud for you. Built from your own cloud device and software, this cloud is entirely in your possession and no one else s. The personal cloud delivers enormous benefits over the public cloud. At a minimum, they never store your data online. Your data remains yours it can t be seen, touched or commandeered by anyone. A personal cloud also reduces complexity instead of increasing it, because it is built off your hardware and online services. So instead of having one more piece of equipment or another place to put the same files, you can make your existing devices simply work together better. 3

5 4 Biography Richard J. Stiles VP Product Development, StoAmigo Rick Stiles has over 30 years of experience in broadband communications and has held several seniorlevel leadership positions with telecommunications companies throughout his career. Rick has also been named in multiple U.S. patents and has been instrumental in the successful development and implementation of a wide variety of products that are currently being deployed by leading telecommunications service providers throughout the United States. About ZCorum ZCorum provides broadband Internet and communication solutions to telcos, cable companies, utilities, and municipalities, assisting in all facets of broadband implementation, integration, engineering and consulting, broadband usage management, network monitoring and diagnostics. ZCorum also offers wholesale, private-labeled Internet services, including data and VoIP provisioning, , Web hosting, and 24x7 support for end-users, enabling service providers to compete effectively in their local rural and suburban markets. ZCorum is headquartered in Alpharetta, GA. For more information, please visit 4

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