Is the cloud still safe? How to survive a cloud computing disaster.

Summary:The news isn't just limited to Sony and it's not just about hacking attacks. There have been cloud failures at Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and more.

Image courtesy of Flickr user inottawa.

The news just keeps getting worse and worse for Sony. Now, it's Sony Music and Sony Erickson that's being hacked. This after weeks of PlayStation Network downtime and an expansion of bad news into Sony Online (well, offline these days) Entertainment.

See also: More Sony bad news: Sony Online also compromised (this goes beyond the PlayStation Network)

The news isn't just limited to Sony and it's not just about hacking attacks. There have been cloud failures at Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and more.

The Top 5 Tips to Survive a Cloud Computing Disaster

This Friday May 27, I'll be hosting a free, live webcast for CBS Interactive discussing whether the cloud is still safe. I'll be joined by top ZDNet and TechRepublic experts and we'll dive deep into the recent problems of cloud computing, and whether it's still safe to entrust your data to the cloud.

It's at 1:00 PM ET (that's 10:00 AM PT and 5:00 PM GMT). I hope you'll join us, bring questions, and be prepared to help us come to workable, actionable conclusions.

Register at: The Top 5 Tips to Survive a Cloud Computing Disaster

Let's run down the recent list of cloud failures. Then, we'll ask and try to answer the question of whether the cloud is still safe.

Amazon Web Services

AWS was down for about a week. The failure also took down some Web services like Quara, FourSquare, and Reddit that were dependent on Amazon, providing the valuable lesson that if you're going to use a backup cloud provider, make sure it's not using the same service provider you are.

See also: 7 important survival tips Amazon's orphaned 0.07 percent can teach us

PlayStation Network (and all the other Sony woes)

Sony has been the target of one or more sustained attacks by outside actors. It seems that once the company solidifies security on one front, another perimeter is breached and the company once again gets attacked.

A lot of old-time IT professionals have little pity for Sony ever since the rootkit fiasco (see this story from 2005's ZDNet). Even so, the company's just had to weather quite literal storms in terms of the terrible tsunamis and earthquakes in Japan, and so these virtual cloud problems are just making things worse.

Many Sony customers are considering jumping from PlayStation to other platforms, and with E3 coming up in just a few short weeks, it'll be interesting to see how Sony presents these problems to the public -- and whether they've managed to batten down the hatches to any extent.

See also: More Sony bad news: Sony Online also compromised (this goes beyond the PlayStation Network)

Epsilon

Epsilon Data Management found that it hadn't managed it's data all that well. Consumers will wind up paying the price. Epsilon provides mailing services for major consumer companies. A breach of its systems resulted in a loss of more than 60 million email addresses from more than 50 companies you used to, but should no longer, fully trust.

We expect millions of consumers to get very targeted phishing emails, which means, pretty much, that you should never trust any email you get, ever, ever again.

See also: Epsilon data breach: What's the value of an email address?

LastPass

When password management company LastPass thought it might have had a breach, it quite properly shut everything down and began an internal investigation. The problem was that the company didn't use best practices, and was completely unprepared for all its customers trying to change their passwords -- all at the same time.

Millions were shut out of not only LastPass, but also all their other password-based online services, including their email accounts.

See also: We interview LastPass CEO: the human price and the real truth

Blogger

When free blogging service Blogger.com (part of Google) performed some regular maintenance recently, something went wrong. The result was about 30 hours of blog posts were lost.

See also: Google's Blogger outage makes the case against a cloud-only strategy

Android

You might love your Android handset, but it might not love you back. A rather extensive security hole was found in the service, opening the door to all sorts of disturbing penetration possibilities. Google's hard at work fixing the bug, but it's still scary.

See also: Android has a gaping network security hole

Next: Dropbox and more »

« Previous: Sony, Google, and Microsoft failures

Dropbox

Finally, we visit our friends at Dropbox. Dropbox is a Web file system solution and if you have an iPhone and want to use it for anything useful at all, you're probably using Dropbox to supplement the iPhone's internal file system.

Recently the company changed its terms of service, substantially changing their wording for how they manage encryption. Even after I wrote my article below, we've been learning more and more about how the company manages encryption. Short form: it's adequate for most uses, but if you're hiding something, don't count on it staying hidden from the authorities.

See also: If you have something to hide from the government, don't use Dropbox

Friday's webcast

Before you go, here's all you need to know to register for Friday's webcast.

As more and more businesses of all types and sizes continue moving to the cloud for a wide range of IT solutions, the risks from a failure at any of the many cloud computing providers becomes even more important to business and IT professionals.

In fact, a series of recent cloud computing failures demonstrate just how damaging they can be when it comes to the potentially permanent loss of information. Of course, there are also a great number of preventative steps that any organization can take to minimize the impact by simply knowing what to expect when confronted by the unexpected.

Attendees will sign on to this live and interactive ZDNet webcast to learn:

  • A better understanding of the rising risks posed by an ever-increasing number of cloud computing solutions and providers.
  • Top strategies and tactics to prevent, manage and survive an unexpected failure or loss of cloud computing resources.
  • The most promising technologies and solutions to ensure the most reliable and robust protection for cloud-based information and services.

Cloud computing is one of the most important IT innovations ever, but that doesn't mean it isn't without its problems. Join me at this live webcast where I'll be joined by a distinguished panel of international experts, as we uncover The Top 5 Tips to Survive a Cloud Computing Disaster.

Register at: The Top 5 Tips to Survive a Cloud Computing Disaster

List any questions you might have below, and don't forget to attend.

Topics: Virtualization, Cloud, Hardware, Servers

About

In addition to hosting the ZDNet Government and ZDNet DIY-IT blogs, CBS Interactive's Distinguished Lecturer David Gewirtz is an author, U.S. policy advisor and computer scientist. He is featured in The History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets, is one of America's foremost cyber-security experts, and is a top expert on savi... Full Bio

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