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The future of cloud computing

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By Sandy Berger

It’s easy to see that at the current time, more and more data transactions are moving to the cloud. Simply looking at the high usage of social network sites, the acceptance of Google Chrome machines, and the popularity of apps like Evernote shows this without a doubt.

This increase, however, is still dampened by a general distrust for cloud storage. Over the next few years, as more and more people become aware of the convenience of using the cloud to access their data, cloud storage will become commonplace. In a 2010 document, Pew Internet reports its thoughts on what cloud computing may look like in 2020. While its findings are impressive, I want to add my take on the future of cloud computing.

As users become more enamored of the easy, instant, and individualized access to tools and information that working in the cloud offers, privacy and security will be pushed to the back of their minds. Even since the Internet was invented, people have been skeptical of its effect on our privacy, but most have become comfortable with relinquishing privacy for the sake of convenience. There is little doubt that the same will be true when we move to the cloud. It may take a few more years before people’s comfort level with the tradeoff between security and privacy is reached. But that time will come, and cloud storage and cloud access will become the norm.

Yet in a cloud-driven world, privacy and security issues will not only be real challenges but they will increase as well. Hackers will pursue new avenues to infiltrate corporate and personal computing. With the increase in cloud backups and data storage, hackers will design new ways to gain access to and use that information for monetary gain. Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer for F-Secure, is quoted in the January 2014 issue of PC Magazine as expecting the bad guys to use key loggers to gain access to online backup passwords. They could then make a copy of an online backup before deleting it from both the cloud and the owner’s personal devices. Hackers could then hold the backup hostage and demand payment for its return.

This alarming scenario is just one of many that can be imagined—and achieved. New security methodology as well as new types of password protections will be a necessary adjunct for companies to implement before any mass move to the cloud. To keep cloud data more secure, we must also find ways to stop the spread of viruses that have plagued our current world of technology.

Many things will change when we make a mass move to the cloud. Sophistication in networks and security may allow affordable local networks that actually allow people to “have the cloud in their homes.” As storage of television programs moves to cloud severs, time-shifting machines such as DVRs and TiVos will become obsolete. Personal assistants such as medical helpers and apps will become commonplace and will be tied to the cloud providing proactive ways to improve and protect your health. These are just a few of the ways the move to the cloud will affect our future.

Please feel free to add your comments, concerns, and prognostications. I am all ears!

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