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CBS4 Investigates: Poking Holes In The Cloud

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MIAMI (CBS4) – It’s the latest hi-tech buzz from computer and smart-phone makers. It’s called the Cloud. And it’s being built-right-in to some of the latest smartphone, tablets and home computers.

According to Bridget Carey, Senior Editor at CNET, “Your sites, the applications you use are not stored on your computers’ hard drive, they are stored remotely on a server so you can access them on-line.”

“Remotely on a server,” means that you can run special  programs and back-up your data online through a wireless network like a Wi-Fi connection or cell-phone service.

“Oh it’s real easy. There’s nothing you have to do. It backs it up automatically,” explained Hans Roller, an architect in Doral.

Roller has “cloud-service” on his phone and internet notebook. But he’s not sure it’s really safe to use.

“My concerns are that somebody could get into it really easy,” said Roller.

“I would say it’s not safe,” said Edward Haletky of the Virtualization Practice.

Haletky is a security analyst who was a featured speaker at the recent “hacker-halted” cyber-security conference in Miami.

He says “the cloud” is only as secure as the networks we use.
In most cases, he warns, it’s easy to hack into.

“Honestly, it’s easier than you think. Because I’m in a coffee shop, you’re accessing your Google email, for example, right now that’s hackable because the coffee shop is hackable,” said Haletky.

“You’re going to have the possibility of identity theft, fraud perpetrated in your name because of identity theft. I mean that’s prevalent”.

Computer makers like apple and Microsoft have extensive information on their websites advising customers how to safely use cloud technology. Some of the ideas include:

1. Use Multiple Passwords
2. Double Check Automatic Encryption
3. Use Secure Browsers
4. Never Open Unknown Files
5. Install Anti-Viral Software

Still, some cyber-security specialists warn that hackers have broken into some of the most secure computer systems in the world. And they advise that “Cloud” computing, no matter how popular it seems to be… is still vulnerable.

“It’s going to get worse. because connected devices are expanding, whether they are automobiles, appliances, medical devices… everything is connected,” said Jeff Bardin of Treadstone 71. “Gigabytes of data have been stolen, terrabytes of information stolen, military plans, designs, absolutely.”

CBS4’s Chief Consumer Investigator Al sunshine asked him “Leaking like a sieve?”

“Just like a sieve,” said Bardin.

Just last week, German hackers reportedly exposed a vulnerability in Amazon’s Cloud Service… allowing them to change customer accounts. That prompted Amazon to immediately tighten up its network security.

Cyber-safety is a growing issue that needs to be taken seriously by both “Cloud” operators and the consumers who use them.

For more information from Apple about how to keep your data safe, check out these links.

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