Updated August 8, 2016

The Cloud is all around us, and it is here to stay. This is not to say that it does not have its issues.

Security, Privacy, and the Cloud

There is not a week that goes by without a major security or privacy issue bubbling up to the top of our news feeds: from the 2015 Sony email hack to the massive data breaches of Tumblr, MySpace, and LinkedIn–just to name a few. Security and privacy, until recently, were only a concern for a few technology-savvy Internet users. Today, when polled, most people would say they care about security or privacy, but their actions so far have shown otherwise. You just have to look at how much private information people are willing to share on social networks or how quickly cloud storage services have gotten mainstream usage, and combine that with the fact that most people tend to use the same (most of the time not strong) password everywhere.

Chances are, this is about to change. First, mainstream media is now dealing with Internet security as a regular topic, as the issue makes headline news almost on a weekly basis. Second, and more importantly, actions of hackers who capture hundreds of thousands of unsecured logins and passwords from poorly protected services will soon start to impact potentially every internet user. As concerns around security and privacy on the cloud start to spread, we need to reflect on how this will affect cloud usage and what we, as Internet Entrepreneurs, should do about it.

And of course, the solution cannot be to go back in time to an era where our personal data was not on the cloud. The move to the cloud is an irreversible consequence of the multiplication of Internet-enabled devices we use on a daily basis. But for those of us who create cloud-based products and services–and who doesn’t these days–it is about doing it right.

Doing it right means several things:

First, usage needs to remain simple and cheap or free for consumers. They should not have to take any specific actions (like encrypting their files by hand on cloud storage services) to be certain that they are safe. It is our job to do that, not theirs.

Second, doing it right means that the level of protection we provide needs to stand the test of the worst case scenarios. Its means that even if hackers manage to get access to our servers, even if one of our employees becomes rogue, our user’s data needs to remain safe. And rest assured that given enough time, there is no Internet-based service that will not be compromised at some point.

Thirdly, and above all, it means saying what we do and doing what we say. It means that we must be fully transparent about the security measures we have implemented so that they can be challenged and scrutinized by the many security experts that exist today. But it means also that when we make commitments to our users about their privacy and security, we must stand by those commitments and they must be part of the DNA of our companies.

So yes, if we do it right, the cloud will be a fantastic opportunity to develop news ideas for the benefit of all Internet users around the world.