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Is Personal Information Safe In The Cloud?

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV
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Cloud technology allows you to access your files from any device or computer.

Cloud technology allows you to access your files from any device or computer.

WBZ-TV's Paula Ebben Paula Ebben
Award-winning journalist Paula Ebben co-anchors WBZ-TV News at 5PM...
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BOSTON (CBS) – Cloud computing is the wave of the future. We’re not talking about weather, but the term used for online storage. Millions of people are using it to store all kinds of documents. People like Jeremy Kossler, a sales executive who needs all of his data to travel with him. “All my notes that I take at a client meeting can go right into my phone and I can access it from anywhere,” he said.

Convenience is clearly the biggest draw of the cloud. Save the file on one device and it’s available on any computer, anywhere in the world. For some files, like your music library, it’s a great option according to Chris Eng, executive vice president of Veracode in Burlington. “It’s perfectly fine for your music, your photos maybe, videos, notes to be accessible from anywhere and that’s the convenience of the cloud,” he said.

Music is one thing, but what about personal or financial information, is it safe in the cloud? According to Eng nothing is foolproof. He says every website that uses cloud storage has vulnerabilities, but some sites like dropbox.com or box.net have a greater incentive to protect your information.

WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben reports

“That’s their main reason for being there is to store your stuff for you. You are their customer,” he said. But that’s not necessarily the case with all companies that use cloud storage. Eng says Gmail stores all of your emails on the cloud and facebook uses the cloud to store all of its user information, but they may not be looking out for you. “With social networking sites, you are not the customer; you are the product. They have no motivation to protect that information. Your information is what they are selling,” Eng explained.

Many people who are active on social networking sties know to keep track of their privacy settings and to be selective about the things they share. Eng advises users to be equally as cautious when storing documents on the cloud. “Do you really need your tax documents to be accessible from anywhere in the world?” he asked.

According to Eng, there are some complicated ways to encrypt documents stored in the cloud, but he said it can be cumbersome for the average user. He suggests storing sensitive documents on your home computer and back them up on a simple hard drive. If it’s vital information, you could even store that backup drive in a safe deposit box.

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