Open Ballot: Do you trust the "cloud"?


Cloud storage: everyone's talking about it. Dropbox is all the rage, Apple has got into the game with iCloud, and we Linux users have Ubuntu One. But as we gear up for our next podcast, we want to know: do you feel safe with your data in the cloud? Is it the future of storage and backup, or just a fad that'll disappear after a few major security incidents? Maybe all your data is in the cloud, and you think everyone else is being paranoid.

Whatever the case, we'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Tap your musings into the comment box below, give yourself a way neater name than Anonymous Penguin, and we'll read out the best in our podcast.

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Your comments

Tricky one

I've got tonnes of stuff in the cloud and use Google Docs and Google Apps Docs, Dropbox, used to use Live Mesh when I used Windows a lot more and like the accessibility and thus far think there is adequate security in terms of encryption thus far.

Will there be security issues in the future, far from clear so far.

I know people are angry with Dropbox because they are willing to allow governmental bodies to bypass the encryption and security, but there are arguments far and against this.

I supposed if people are really concerned and are using Dropbox and want to keep the average cracker out they could use Truecrypt/Realcrypt to create and encrypted container as Dropbox now supports this, and this would add an added layer.

I feel safe with my data in the cloud as the providers have a much better backup strategy than I could ever have on items I put in the cloud, and if something was THAT sensitive I guess I would not put it in the cloud in the first place.

That said RMS has concerns about the privacy of the cloud and perhaps even if we don't agree with him it is worth considering his (and other people's) arguments.


of course, but i only trust the 'cloud' that's sat in my basement, at least then i know the security isn't that terrible, and there's no yearly subscription to use someone elses setup (ignoring electricity costs, but it's next to nothing)

Jury Is Still Out

I'm rather 50-50 about it, currently - it still really needs to prove itself. I use dropbox, but not for anything I'd consider sensitive. Probably more than security I worry about privacy - if you're getting something for free are there being anaytics run on your stored data. There's also a potential data protection act type concern for both home users and business users alike - if your cloud provider isn't based in, or has their head office in, your country, how does this affect you legally? I am in the UK, but if I use a USA based, or headed, cloud provider I bet they'd hand my data over the the USA government without much questioning, for example (not that this worries me, but it may be a concern for others). There's also the question for UK based Data-Protection-Act compliant companies - if you use a provider based or headed in the USA, how does this comply (or not) with the DPA for data-exporting purposes. Again, if you used a USA owned company, evem if their services were based in the UK, would they be able/required to hand over your data if the USA government requested it? In these examples I'm not using the USA as an evil empire example, but more of a very different location with different data laws, outside of the EU

Absolutely not...

...but it's so damn convenient. Using GMail, Google Calendar and Dropbox for almost everything, and I have no idea how I survived without them...

I guess the secret is to ignore the false safety of "Privacy settings" in services like Facebook and just to treat absolutely every externally hosted service as potentially public. If you can't live with that, use a client side encrypted service or do your computing without "The Cloud".

Absolutely Not

Security is one major issue but what about outages at the vendors site or local connectivity outatages, both happen far to regularly for my comfort.

Another issue relates to the viability of the company, cloud providers seem to be popping up at an incredible rate, what happens if they provider you select goes out of business this has certainly happened over here in the UK and has caused no end of grief for some companies.

Just my tuppence worth



definitely not

maybe I'll trust iCloud with my music and other iTunes purchases, but nothing personal. The cloud is like inviting a complete stranger to have an in-depth look around your whole house.
When they go down, you can't get to your data. When it turns out that they were abusing everybody's data (i think an online backup company was recently found to be doing this) you feel robbed in a way.
Besides, what's wrong with having a wardrobe full of hard drives? Imagine how much you could store in a wardrobe! Also, the cloud is slow if you have a slow internet connection, and it isn't exactly lightning fast if you do have a fast connection. If you fear something may happen to your wardrobe, then ask a friend to store some at their house. Then someone you trust has your data, not some faceless corporation.

Too much

More than I should. I know that one day I'll regret it, but it's so convenient...

Lately I work in desktops at home (mac and linux), at my office (mac), and at a different office (windows). And many times I use one of my two laptops, a MacBook Pro and a netbook with Ubuntu. And, I use my iPhone a lot to manage contacts and calendars. My life is saner thanks to Dropbox, Wunderlist and Gmail. It's quite difficult to track all the documents, versions, etc. if you are not using the "cloud". Probably I could use my own server, but I don't have a clue about where to start.


Not for me, but I'm unusual

I find the idea of having all my data stored somewhere that I don't have physical access to very unnerving indeed. I don't really have a problem with it if we're talking about backup, but not for general storage.

However, I'm unusual in that I have the know-how to set up a server at home, so I have alternatives. Most people love the convenience of the cloud, and many will never even consider where their data actually goes; it's just "magic" :)

I don't think the cloud is going away, but I am sick of the term. "Cyberspace" died out, and "The Cloud" basically means the same thing. I think the word will die, but the practice won't.


I use Google's services like GMail and Calendar and other cloud services at the moment, but I don not trust them and I will move my bussiness elsewhere evnetually.


I've a personal web site and I've been hacked 2 times in the last six month. Someone put some strange pages on my web site, and the customer support said it was my fault. Internet was designed as a set of indipendent nodes to survive a nuclear attack, what if my clound is not reachable any more? I won't put one important document in one place far far away from my pc, what if the internet connection fails? I won't be able to reach them any more. How can I be sure that no beside me will access them?


I will never trust the cloud with my files. Security is way to weak to move my files in to the cloud (thinking about chrome os. Also big companies like sony and RSA has been hacked lately. Why should i trust the cloud when you cannot trust RSA?

Up Time

In strictly up time - not going into the debate of "what is mine" which will always be a debate - The "Cloud" has a way better up time then local servers if you are in a company environment.


no, it's not supposed to be trusted


I'm in love with dropbox and use gmail. It's important to have backups

Another important point is that if the datacentres are in the US they're subject to American law not your own country's.

Also what happens when you die? If you paid for the services, all the money and data will have been lost.

To a point

I use the "cloud" for backup and syncing useful files at the moment. I have a paid-for Ubuntu One account which backs up all of my photos and important documents, I use drop-box for syncing a few things at work, home and between my wife and I and our phones and I have paid-for storage with Google for extra backup.

All of the files I put into the cloud are typically of the type where if people were to get their hands on them (governments, hackers etc...) it wouldn't be the end of the world if their contents were viewed.

Files where I need security go no-where near the cloud, ever!

I don't think the cloud is going away and it does make various things more convenient. But I do think we need to make sure that access to our data is protected and that we remain in control and retain ownership of it. If we don't then the privacy battle is lost, completely.

Depends on the Content

I think as a service it is unrivaled in ease of use and utility in terms of ubiquitous access. Although it's often said anything that is confidential or important should not be typed on a keyboard or entered in a computer, so the argument follows that anything that is in anyway secretive or confidential or mission critical should not be put into the "cloud".

Case in point, the Amazon AWS crashes that were experienced a few weeks ago, are an example of how the cloud is not always reliable but in general, is a trade off between ease of use,security and reliability.

Another point to consider is that of the provider of the cloud storage, Companies established such as Google, Amazon and now to a lesser extent DropBox (they have millions and millions of happy customers) are easily trustworthy and there is no danger of your "cloud" stored data going missing or the service going bankrupt and shutting down.

why use

as any linux user, I have the possibility to turn my pc into a server. as I am lucky, I have a fast internet connection, a large HD and a decent processor/RAM combination. so why would I put my data on someone else system ? I can do all what the cloud services proposed to me, I even can share it with friends.... NX for desktop, calibre for ebooks, plenty of other for music management

From a Geek's Perspective

In programming its often said the only code you should trust in your own. That applies to the cloud as well. However as mentioned above it really depends on the content you want to store. If its already publicly accessible already like music or movies I will take the chance but when it comes to my private documents or photos HELL NO!

With all the recent surges of big companies getting "hacked" when they really were not following best practices I think we are headed for a similar situation with cloud storage.

Of course if you just store some .ogg or .mp3 files in the cloud then you wont even care once they back up your data.

If you are a company and your cloud provided gets pwned well then you just punished yourself for being cheap and not setting up your own data center.

A Expat's Point of view from China

The internet here, in China, is just so slow and often drops out it is hard to trust.

Lot on your knife

The "cloud" is DEFINITELY not ready for production/critical use because the infrastructure isn't solid enough. The fact is that, until we have Internet connectivity more reliable and solid than the twisted pair, non-VoIP phone service, and doubly encrypted so that it is inaccessible to everyone but the data owner, the cloud is absolutely not ready. Period.

Yes. Wait, no. Hmm, I don't know.

Having spent around 2 hours resetting various usernames and passwords following the Playstation network debacle I am reluctant to trust too much to the cloud. I have a Ubuntu One account which is very handy but I have decided to remove all sensitive content from it.

The question is what is more important. Security or convenience? No system is entirely safe from hacking and we need to be clear who owns the data and who gets access to it.

It would be a shame if the reality doesn't live up to the promise.

Vim, of course. Oh, wait,

Vim, of course.

Oh, wait, wrong post.

Currently using both Dropbox and SpiderOak at the moment. Planning on switching to SO because of their 'zero-knowledge' encryption.

Overall though, I don't think I really have anything that really important.

as much as you would trust the weather forecast

however you still carry a brolly on you if rain is imminent - i.e., i would have trusted the cloud but the recent issues with cloud / online failures, i am keeping my stuff online AND where possible backing up offline / encrypting it before i send it off to the cloud etc

Great for Back Up

It's so convenient for back-up, though. I have an Ubuntu One account, and that syncs all my photos - which is great piece of mind since I lost a bunch of photos due to a failed hard drive a few years ago. And I use Google Docs a lot to share text documents.

Do I "trust" the Cloud, though? I think it's pretty much as likely that I'd lose my computer to burglars as sensitive info would be stolen by Ubuntu / Google / Hackers, so I'm not sure what the alternative is.

Yes! No!

It depends entirely on the provider, doesn't it? I use Dropbox for convenience to store non-sensitive files. For really important stuff that needs extra protection I use - they really take care of your stuff and they have excellent Linux support too, as the name suggests.

Not a post about Vim

Trust? No.

Use? Oh, yes. How can we not?

I don't trust most people using the word "cloud"

I would say most people don't what a cloud is but they like to throw that word out there to gets sales . . . so I guess it comes down to I don't trust people who use the word "cloud" without further investigation.

If the following conditions aren't met, it isn't a cloud:

1) on-demand self-service
2) broad network access
3) resource pooling
4) rapid elasticity
5) measured service

In addition, I have some trust issues with cloud services and their willingness to hand out my personal information to other agencies. Personal property I can protect by locking doors and loading up a shotgun, but I question whether cloud services would be so vigilant in protecting my data (these services don't exactly have a stellar track record). The cloud already is and is going to continue be a gold mine for hackers.

Also, at what point do we stop being individuals and just another part of a collective Borg brain? Maybe we already are, but cloud services just move us further in this direction.

End of story.



Yes and No...

The fact is, your data is at risk, period. It is at risk of loss and unauthorised access no matter where you put it. What you have to do is to mitigate that risk to an acceptable level.

If you don't trust the cloud, where are you going to save your stuff? On your hard drive, on a NAS in your airing cupboard, on a pen drive under your pillow? Well, what if your hardware fails, house burns down, or you get burgled?

On the flip side, if you store your stuff in the cloud then you are giving up control to someone else who may not be as careful with it as you would hope. It's still open to physical lose but also to unauthorised access.

So what do you do? I use a combination of cloud services to provide redundancy while encrypting data I want to keep away from prying eyes.

Looking above this comment

That would be a "NO" then. You cloud people out in cloud land also need to realise you should have called it brickwall or something because clouds are so whispy and ethereal and never last more than a few hours. My advice re-brand or evaporate.


I don't feel safe with my data in the cloud - but I do see that this is clearly the way things are heading. I have synchronised my firefox sync accounts on three computers - and it's great, and a part of me would like to be able to do this with all my files, too. But the difference is that I only use firefox when I have access to the internet, whereas I need files all the time. I think the future of computing will be your own personal cloud. 'mycloud' would be a server running linux, which you would plug into your broadband router, and it would pipe all your media/files to all your computers, and perform automatic back-ups onto a separate harddrive. It would also provide your files securely when you are out the house as well.


I trust the cloud like I trust user input (which is to say that I don't).

However, in the same way that user input can be useful, the cloud can also be useful if you take the proper precautions and use it correctly.

Has Promise

Clouding is simply a way of easily extending computer services. This is not a problem in itself but the hosting.
Creation of an inhouse cloud where you have complete control yes then you can trust the cloud. If someone else hosts the cloud you're using then , whatever is written on paper, youre out of control and the cloud can't be trusted.

Wait and see

Free cloud services will always be risky. I use them but have no illusion that they will take significant effort to recover my data in case of a serious outage. Paid services have the benefit of a contract and SLA requirements assuming one asks for them and tracks them.

As for availability - same story. You get what you pay for.

Linux User != Ubuntu User

"we Linux users have Ubuntu One"! That's a bit of a simplistic statement....

Yes - I trust cloud computing

Although it's more complex than that. Personally, I use Dropbox. It integrates nicely (with proper integration into Dolphin!) and let's me access my files when far away! As for the privacy concerns: well, I don't have anything that the government would come chasing me after. And if I was paranoid, I'd be encrypting files before synchronising them to the cloud. (That way, my local copy would also be "secure").

For those that are hyper-security conscious, there are alternatives.

ownCloud ( allows you to run your own cloud server. (Still not sure how they came up with the name!). Stick it on an encrypted volume and voila! The point is, if you can control the repository, you control the security.

There are also other commercial options - eg. SpiderOak - which (unlike Dropbox) don't keep the encryption keys to your data...

Do I trust the cloud? Yes - because I'm not paranoid, and I don't have anything earth-shatteringly important to hide.

Nope, not at all.

Besides gmail, I don't use any other cloud service, however I can't deny it's convenience, so I set up sshfs on my server, the security thing wouldn't be an issue if everyone had their own cloud instance, it would mean no company had your data. Although any machine connected to the internet is vulnerable to attacks you could take whatever steps you wanted to secure your data!

Do you trust the Internet?

Of course not, so why trust the cloud.

Cloud = Services on the Internet!!

How did we ever let marketing people get away with this term :-0


A benign organism can very quickly turn malignant. However, I can see an attraction for a company to hold common documents in a private “cloud” but that is as far as I would ever go.

It appears to me to be just a way of cluttering up the webs backbone with unnecessary traffic..

I've been using the cloud

I've been using the cloud for all my non-confidential business for a few years now, as it's the most convenient way to swap between home and the office. Every now and then I hope that someone will pry into my Google spreadsheets, feel pity for me, and drop a little something into my PayPal account.

Oh yea!!

I trust the cloud the same way I trust any guy in the street that offers me to save my important information.

Do I use it ? Yes, gmail and eyeos. However I do not keep there information that I cannot afford to loose or I do not wish to share with ... who knows.

Bottom line, to be used with carefull.


Until client side encryption is the default I won't be using any cloud service solution for backing up data.


I am an occasional Dropbox user for quick'n'easy filesharing but I will never entrust it with my main business.

A great many reasons - one of them is residence in a rural area where disruptions to our broadband service happen all too often. Yes, I live only twelve miles from the centre of one of the eastern UK's major cities but my connection can still get flaky if the weather changes suddenly!

Yes and NO

The cloud is fine as a last resort backup, but you get what you pay for the services are not free in most senses and even the free as in beer is often limited to a half pint. I think it can good as long as expectations are reasonable and the use is not too reliant on any one company.


to ezsy to steal info

Not a chance sooner poke

Not a chance
sooner poke needles in my eyes

Within Reason

There are some great cloud-based applications that I use regularly, like Dropbox and Evernote. These apps make computing life so much simpler than it was even two or three years ago as I move from machine to machine, or distro-hop.

On the other hand, I won't place a bunch of sensitive data up in the cloud, or rely on the cloud as my last line of backup. A local NAS device provides that service.

Clouds Usually Mean Rain

Sorry but I think the Cloud has its place and is okay if used in moderation BUT I would not and will not entrust it with anything important.

Just look at the mess that Hackers have made of so many "Secure" sites of late. The internet just is not secure and when an individual or individuals can wreck a business with a bit of code I am in the NO camp.

We all know that people should have good backups and alternatives available but how many do.

An extra hard drive or two for me.

No way!

To much of my info is available with out me putting it out there. No way am I going to do it on purpose.
Another reason is the government has some and probably even more access to content on the "cloud". No way am I going to back up my info on an electronic bill board.

A bit concerned

Actually, I found this thread/post while surfing around for threads or topics discussing the actual "security" of Ubuntu One cloud service. I have recently registered for an account, and I love the interface and all, but I must say I'm a bit worried that the company/service/hosting will suddenly go bankrupt one day, leaving me stranded with all files vanished. Would you guys say this is very unlikely to happen?

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