Tag Archives: privacy

Leaving a Place for Whistleblowers in the Private Cloud

The NSA PRISM scandal has sent a wave of caution and paranoia through both the public and private sectors. Journalists now must worry about being indicted for reporting on “sensitive information” and government whistleblowers now fear imprisonment for leaking illegal government activities. For whistleblowers in the private sector, protections are uncertain and the current governmental climate of aggression against leaks provides few incentives for revealing exploitative practices. But that doesn’t mean that the practice of whistleblowing is lost. Private cloud services hold a place for leakers of all sorts, protecting sensitive information and shielding whistleblower identities.

Sean McAllister

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One journalist that could have protected himself and his sources through the private cloud is Sean McAllister. While interviewing a Syrian dissident going by the pseudonym “Kardokh”, in Damascus, McAllister jeopardized the dissident’s security through the careless lack of data protections. While Kardokh and his fellow dissidents encrypted their communications, they “started to feel that Sean was careless. He was using his mobile and SMS, without any protections.” A few months later, McAllister was arrested and held for five days. Once returned to the UK, the journalist said, “I didn’t realize exactly what they were risking until I went into that experience.” Although no rebels were directly imprisoned as a result of McAllister’s actions, simple precautionary measures could have avoided the entire situation. Iinstead of risking their lives and the lives of their sources, journalists can remain anonymous through exclusively storing sensitive data and sources in a private cloud that secures user anonymity. According to Frank Smyth, senior advisor for journalist security at the Committee to Protect Journalists, “I think that the journalism community in the US, and to some degree elsewhere, is just beginning to grasp the fact that they need to protect their information and, by extension, their sources. It’s just too easy to get in and lift their information or monitor their communications without them ever knowing they were compromised.”

Syrian Dissidents Protecting Online Identities

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Journalists, whistleblowers, and dissidents in conflict zones have a place in all democratic societies that value transparency. In an op-ed for USA Today, blogger and University of Tennessee Professor of Law, Glenn Reynolds, Said, “What does matter is that the Snowden affair occurs in the context of an unprecedented administration war on whistleblowers. And that’s a bad idea because whistleblowing is one of the things that maintains the legitimacy of a government as big, and otherwise unaccountable, as ours. The freer people are to blow the whistle on wrongdoing, the more we can assume that when no whistle is blown, things aren’t so bad. The more the government cracks down on whistleblowers, the more likely it is that they’ve got something to hide.” Whistleblowing preserves freedom around the planet, and is thus an act that should be protected as stated by the Declaration of the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal. Part of the Declaration reads, “Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring.”

Julian Assange

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As the United States government continues to defend programs like PRISM while attacking whistleblowers, journalists have turned to technology to safeguard sources and secrets. The notorious whistleblower Julian Assange criticized the Obama administration’s aggression and lack of transparency, claiming, “In the Obama administration’s attempt to crush these young whistleblowers with espionage charges, the US government is taking on a generation, a young generation of people who find the mass violation of the rights of privacy and open process unacceptable. In taking on the generation, the Obama administration can only lose.” Such sentiments are echoed in a statement put out by Edward Snowden while hiding in Hong Kong. The controversial whistleblower said, “[Other whistleblowers] are all examples of how overly-harsh responses to public-interest whistleblowing only escalate the scale, scope, and skill involved in future disclosures. Citizens with a conscience are not going to ignore wrongdoing simply because they’ll be destroyed for it: the conscience forbids it. Instead, these draconian responses simply build better whistleblowers.”

Even former CIA agent and whistleblower, John Kiriakou, voiced his support for Snowden from prison, “Thank you for your revelations of government wrongdoing over the past week.  You have done the country a great public service. I know that it feels like the weight of the world is on your shoulders right now, but as Americans begin to realize that we are devolving into a police state, with the loss of civil liberties that entails, they will see your actions for what they are: heroic.” Time will tell whether or not history deems Snowden a criminal or hero, but in the face of governmental crackdowns on whistleblowers, one of the only hopes for transparency is through third party cloud services.

Whistleblowers in the Private Cloud

In order keep sensitive secrets private while protecting sources, whistleblowers and journalists should stick to the Journalist Security Guide. After following basic security protocols, store any sensitive information and contact lists exclusively through a private third party cloud service. Most cloud services on the market have security gaps that leave sensitive information vulnerable to snooping, hacking, or even subpoenas. But through SpiderOak, journalists and whistleblowers can rest easy with 100% user anonymity.

As for just how SpiderOak protects sensitive data, the service offers two-factor password authentication and 256-bit AES encryption so that files and passwords stay private. Leakers can store and sync sensitive information with complete privacy, because this cloud service has absolutely “zero-knowledge” of user data. And plaintext encryption keys are only stored on the user’s chosen devices. SpiderOak’s private cloud services are available on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms, along with Android and iOS mobile devices.

The Top 5 Women Leading the Cloud

For a long while, the tech world and especially cloud computing was considered a male-dominated industry. And while there’s still a long way to go, women have flocked to the cloud, rising through the ranks of some of the biggest companies, and driving innovation. To celebrate the most innovating and inspiring women in cloud computing, CloudNOW, the world’s leading network of women in the cloud, puts on the annual CloudNOW Top Women in Cloud Awards. These awards were started in 2012 and honor 10 of the year’s most notable women in the cloud industry. According to CloudNOW advisory board member Bernard Golden, “Cloud computing is going through an exciting and vibrant evolution and many of the leading participants are women. Fostering conversations and collaboration on cloud computing is critical and an organization that provides an opportunity for that discussion is an excellent addition to the ecosystem.”

CloudNOW

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According to the U.S. Department of Labor projections, the cloud will help enable around 1.4 million IT and computing jobs by the year 2020. And many of these jobs are sure to be be filled by women. Director of global cloud solutions at VMware JJ DiGeronimo, “Cloud computing presents an opportunity for women who are not as heavily focused on the architectural design, and how bits and bytes move through the organization. We’ll still need women who are technical, but cloud provides the chance to also champion ideas and work cross-functionally to define how IT is delivered to business.” Along with offering women new positions and job opportunities, the cloud provides appealing solutions like mobility and work place flexibility. As CEO of Delphi Group Thomas Koulopoulos says, “Cloud provides greater flexibility into how we integrate people into the process. For instance, a stay-at-home mother can manage the cloud just as well as an in-house worker. Most businesses just want the greater skill set – technology and innovation — and that levels the playing field.”

While the future for the cloud is promising for women, there are still plenty of prominent power players that have risen to the tops of tech giants, security firms, and cloud providers. Take a look at our list of five of inspiring women from CloudNOW’s Top Women in Cloud Award winners. These women are still leading the cloud to new heights:

Lydia Leong, Vice President of Research at Gartner

Lydia Leong

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Lydia Leong has helped IT teams in a wide range of industries to make a smooth transition to cloud computing. Ms. Leong holds a degree in Computer Science Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and has experience in DevOps, product management, and systems architecture. Before landing at Gartner, Ms. Leong served as Director of Product Engineering and Operations at Digex/Intermedia Communications as well as Director of Server Engineering at Excite@Home.

Manjula Talreja, Vice President of Global Cloud Business Development at Cisco

Manjula Tareja

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As Cisco’s VP of Global Cloud Business Development, Manjula Talreja is currently one of the leading women in the cloud world. Business leaders around the world turn to her keen grasp of how the cloud impacts current business models. In her role at Cisco, Ms. Talreja helped launch the Virtual Computing Environment (VCE) coalition, a joint venture between Cisco and the EMC Corporation.

Vanessa Alvarez, Director of Product Marketing at Gridstore

Vanessa Alvarez

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In her daily role as Gridstore’s Director of Product Marketing, Vanessa Alvarez is responsible for developing marketing strategies and scalable pay-as-you-grow software-based data storage. Ms. Alvarez has been a part of CloudNOW since its origins and her widely read blog has helped all sorts of industry leaders navigate the murky cloud market.

Margaret Dawson, Vice President of Product Marketing for HP Cloud Services

Margaret Dawson

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After starting out her career as a security expert, Margaret Dawson’s journey eventually found her serving as VP of Product Marketing & Cloud Evangelist for HP Cloud Services. For over 20 years, Ms. Dawson has led innovations for Fortune 500s and tech startups like Hubspan. With a passion for all that the cloud can offer, Ms. Dawson has continued to advise IT leaders on better ways to utilize the cloud in their field.

Rhonda MacLean, Founder of MacLean Risk Partners

Rhonda MacLean

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As the Founder of MacLean Risk Partners, Rhonda MacLean has more than 30 years worth of experience in the technology industry. Her consulting firm helps enterprises, businesses, and governmental agencies navigate the world of cloud security. She continues to provide industries of all sorts with risk advisory and strategic security services.

Cloud Security Innovation with SpiderOak Blue

SpiderOak Blue is a private cloud service provider offering the full benefits of cloud storage along with 100% data privacy for enterprises of all sorts. As for just how SpiderOak Blue protects data, the service offers 256-bit AES encryption so that files and passwords stay private. Enterprises can store and sync data with complete privacy, because this cloud service has absolutely “zero-knowledge” of user data and plaintext encryption keys are only stored on approved devices. SpiderOak’s private cloud services are available on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms, along with Android and iOS mobile devices, allowing for flexible solutions for enterprises.

Changing the World through the Cloud: Insights for Nonprofits

Typically, businesses turn to the cloud for cost savings, convenience, and ultimately, the promise of greater profits. But cloud computing, storage, and sync also promises to revolutionize the nonprofit sector, allowing non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to protect donors, raise greater funds, and connect with a larger donor base. Through secure cloud services, nonprofits and NGOs can utilize this technological wave to help make the world a better place.

NGOs and Cloud Computing

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To start with, cloud data storage helps nonprofits consolidate and manage data offsite, freeing up much needed office space. Cloud services can offer NGOs greater security and storage space, along with guaranteed backup of important data like donor contact lists. Instead of hosting institution-wide computers and servers, the cloud enables Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, a mobile workforce, and radical cost-savings from reduced onsite server needs. This flexibility is especially appealing to nonprofits and NGOs, which often rely heavily on a strong core of volunteers. And for employees, while salaries and benefits are generally lower in the nonprofit sector, groups can still attract some of the best, most committed talent, with the appeal of flexibility that come with a mobile work, BYOD, and work from home policies, enabled by the cloud.

BYOD Benefits to Nonprofits & NGOs

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When donors are concerned, showing good stewardship can help secure a committed fundraising base. Money saved on infrastructure, servers, and IT, means more funds enabled for projects that leave a lasting legacy and improve the world. And funds saved on software, maintenance, and even electricity are just further proof of stewardship, which is sure to satisfy even the most cynical potential giver. Environmentalists become a new donor base when nonprofits can market their electricity savings garnered through the cloud, as making the transition save offices big on energy and onsite computers. Furthermore, as many NGOs and nonprofits are funded entirely by grants and individual donors, they must keep track of extensive donation lists, especially for tax concerns. Keeping such sensitive data protected from hacking, leak, or loss should be on the minds of all nonprofits, and is easily achieved by employing a private third party cloud service.

Impact of Online Giving

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Unfortunately, despite the cloud’s many benefits, NGOs and nonprofits have yet to fully tap its potential. According to a recent TechSoup Global survey of more than 10,000 international NGOs, many NGOs aren’t even aware of when they are using the cloud. According to Co-CEO of TechSoup Global Marnie Webb, “People often don’t know whether or not the technology they are using is cloud computing. It’s only when we asked respondents about specific technologies that we discovered that they were, in fact, using cloud computing.” 90% of respondents have used the cloud and over half of those surveyed had planned IT transitions to the cloud within three years. In regards to this transition, Webb said, “At the enterprise level, after organizations use more than three cloud-based tools, that becomes the tipping point at which they decide to move a significant portion of their IT onto the cloud. Once they start using cloud computing tools the benefits start to increase their motivation, because they have more experience with it.” According to another study, 60% of nonprofits were too unaware or ignorant of the technology to fully adopt it. Still, 53% of nonprofits planned IT transitions to the cloud within three years, echoing the results of the TechSoup Global survey. Community Manager at Grovo Learning Rolando Brown has seen the cloud’s benefits manifest firsthand, “What we in the social sector care about most is that we’re able to accomplish our goals and mission; i.e. solving community problems, promoting healthier behaviors, etc. With cloud computing, people can focus more on being better at whatever it is they do rather than being experts at technology. Before, I had to be a techie to take advantage of the web. I needed to understand code to launch a website. Now I can use WordPress and the technology is just available to me.”

Cloud Solutions for NGOs

Nonprofit organizations and NGOs turning to the cloud should be sure that their third party service offers data privacy and user anonymity. Many cloud services on the market have wide security gaps that leave projects and sensitive donor data wide-open to data breach or leaks. But for SpiderOak, this private cloud service provider offers the full benefits of cloud storage along with 100% data privacy for nonprofits of all sorts.

As for just how SpiderOak protects projects and data, the service offers two-factor password authentication and 256-bit AES encryption so that files and passwords stay private. Two-factor authentication is just like the process used by some banking services that require a PIN as an extra precaution along with a password. Through SpiderOak, users that select two-factor authentication must submit their private code through SMS as well as an individual encrypted password. Nonprofits can store and sync data with complete privacy, because this cloud service has absolutely “zero-knowledge” of user data. Plaintext encryption keys are only stored on the writer’s chosen devices, so NGOs can keep rest easy knowing their donors are protected. SpiderOak’s private cloud services are available on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms, along with Android and iOS mobile devices, allowing for flexible solutions and collaboration for global nonprofits.

Working With Words in the Cloud

The cloud has offered businesses and enterprises the technological leverage to stay one step ahead of the competition. But wordsmiths ranging from authors and bloggers to copywriters and technical writers can also use the cloud to gain a competitive edge. The cloud can save writers from the nightmare of losing a manuscript without backup or having an idea stolen. As a writer, your words are your livelihood. Writers can secure their ideas with the same degree of protection that some of the biggest businesses employ. Through a secure third party cloud service provider, seasoned writers can keep their words and manuscripts private. And cloud computing in general enables unpublished writers to reach a global audience, bypassing publishers entirely.

Words in the Cloud

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Before the cloud, the only way to get published was to impress an agent with a stellar sample or slowly build up credentials through small presses before sending off a full manuscript one at a time through expensive snail mail. But now, writers no longer need to rely on publishing houses at all. With unlimited space online to upload works to, writers can tap into potential readers from all around the world. Unpublished writers can collaborate with others and get real-time feedback from editors through threads and blogs.

Developers have already tapped the collaborative potential of the cloud with mobile workforces. But now, freelance writers are using the technology to collaborate with clients from around the world. Projects no longer need to be restricted to time zones with the cloud. All that writers and clients need to stay in touch is a secure cloud service provider and an Internet connection. And with the rise of smartphones, most interactions could even be done via iOS or Android. Freelancers never have to worry about losing a project or sensitive client email, as all data would be securely backed up to the cloud. Storing projects online is much more secure than just leaving them backed up on a user device. Laptops and PCs could lose data during a crash, meaning that unless a writer’s done the work of backing up their work, that painstaking manuscript that’s been fiddled with for ages could disappear with just one power outage. And trying to recover such data could be impossible and at the least, expensive. Think flash drives are a better option? Think about what would happen if that tiny piece of plastic were to get lost. With a secure cloud storage and sync service, writers can rest assured that multiple online copies and backups will preserve their work.

U.S. E-books Revenue Growth

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Uploading works to the cloud also helps protect the copyrights of writers. Writers may not know it, but once a work is written, it is automatically copyright protected. But the problem is being able to prove primary authorship in court if needed. Once a file is uploaded to the cloud, writers can have a digital upload timestamp so that if needed, they could prove copyright of a project or work.

Technical writers have perhaps benefited the most from the cloud as applications, storage, and sync, make project security, mobile collaboration, and development easier, more convenient, and cost effective. The cloud covers a wide range of applications that technical writers use everyday, from terminology databases to authoring systems, that could all be maintained on a cloud server, freeing up space and reducing the need for expensive onsite servers. And writers no longer need to be chained to a desk with an expensive company computer as the cloud enables a mobile workforce, remote collaboration, and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies.

BYOD Policy Survey

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SpiderOak

Writers wanting to protect their manuscripts and projects with the cloud should first follow the steps found in the Journalist Security Guide, especially if leaks or sensitive data is an issue or concern. Many cloud services on the market have wide security gaps that leave projects and manuscripts wide-open to data breach or leaks. But for SpiderOak, this private cloud service provider offers the full benefits of cloud storage along with 100% data privacy for writers of all sorts.

As for just how SpiderOak protects projects and manuscripts, the service offers two-factor password authentication and 256-bit AES encryption so that files and passwords stay private. Two-factor authentication is just like the process used by some banking services that require a PIN as an extra precaution along with a password. Through SpiderOak, users that select two-factor authentication must submit their private code through SMS as well as an individual encrypted password. Writers can store and sync new works with complete privacy, because this cloud service has absolutely “zero-knowledge” of user data, a perk especially useful for ghostwriters. Plaintext encryption keys are only stored on the writer’s chosen devices, so authors can keep rest easy knowing their works are protected. SpiderOak’s private cloud services are available on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms, along with Android and iOS mobile devices, allowing for flexible solutions for writers on the move.

Who Moved My Cloud? Staying Ahead of the Changing Market

The cloud has revolutionized a wide spectrum of industries ranging from education to entertainment. These changes present a crossroads for enterprises and businesses that can choose to either leverage technological progress in their favor or fall behind. Instead of playing an endless game of catch up and “who moved my cheese?” enterprises and businesses of all sorts can stay ahead of the competition and technological developments with the convenience, scalability, and cost savings that secure cloud services can provide.

Atomic Fiction

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In the VFX industry, the cloud has already helped to bring about rapid changes. Through the cloud, film projects have been able to enjoy even greater mobility. Secure clouds have also enabled faster rendering and more private storage to help guard against leaks and hacks. With cloud rendering, VFX infrastructure costs can be drastically reduced. While VHF companies once had to rely on massive and costly render farms, cloud sourcing rendering has freed up project budgets and even more important to the film industry, time. According to Baillie of Atomic Fiction, a VFX company that uses the cloud for over 90% of its rendering needs, “We knew we didn’t have the budget for a large data center. But we didn’t want to be a data center company, we wanted to be a creative company.” Secure third party cloud solutions enable such creative industries to stay creative, while leaving the most monotonous and time-consuming processes for the cloud.

Cloud Computing Growth

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Another way that the cloud is changing the market and workplace is in the IT field. With the cloud, traditional IT has practically been rendered obsolete. In the past, IT teams would maintain and manage both servers and software. But now with the efficiency, scalability, and support that third party cloud service providers offer, owning expensive servers that go out of date is no longer a requirement for maintaining control and security for sensitive data. According to Shally Stangley, managing director for Global Services, “Cloud computing has the ability to transform an IT’s focus from performing business as usual activities (keeping the organization running) to driving IT innovation. IT teams spend less time on updating, upgrading, and maintaining systems and more time supporting business processes, analytics and critical decision making.”

Global Cloud Projections

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Cloud computing frees up IT teams to help instill and maintain better security practices onsite Furthermore, according to executive director of network services for TEKsystems, Rick Madan, “The total cost of ownership of software and hardware goes down for end users since they are removed from the business of buying, licensing, and maintaining associated assets…. the revenue-and-service premise for cloud providers is built on a ‘pay as you go’ model so as an end using company, instead of getting bogged down in the sunk costs of servicing debt related to sometimes idle IT processes and resources, the cloud model allows you only pay for those actually utilized by the business at any given moment.” Thus, the cloud both streamlines IT and reduces the need for large IT staffs, offering enterprises and businesses radically reduced storage and sync costs.

Another way the cloud is revolutionizing the market is in customer relations and building brand loyalty. According to vice president of the Cloud Business Unit of Red Hat, Scott Crenshaw, “The old mantra used to be people buy from people. But customers are moving to more online transactions, which is fundamentally a cloud phenomenon. Even in industries where the transaction requires direct personal interaction, buyers will form their opinions of products and services based on input from online communities.” Furthermore, he says that cloud services offer, “niche retailers the ability to tweak their offerings and develop a closer understanding of their customers.” This way, enterprises and businesses of all sizes can leverage the cloud in their favor. But when choosing a third party cloud service provider, enterprises and businesses should make sure that the provider offers data security and user anonymity, otherwise data could be vulnerable to a breach.

SpiderOak

For enterprises and businesses looking to leverage the cloud, SpiderOak Blue offers fully private “public” and onsite server options for full flexibility. Choosing the right third party cloud service can be a challenge as many services on the market have security gaps that leave private data vulnerable to third party attacks. But SpiderOak sets itself apart from the rest of the market by providing a fully private cloud service featuring all of the benefits of cloud storage along with 100% data anonymity.

SpiderOak protects sensitive enterprise data through 256-bit AES encryption so that files and passwords stay private. Authorized accounts can store and sync sensitive data with complete privacy, because this cloud service has absolutely “zero-knowledge” of user passwords or data. And all plaintext encryption keys are exclusively stored on approved devices (SpiderOak never hosts plaintext data). SpiderOak Blue’s private cloud services are available for enterprises on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms, along with Android and iOS mobile devices, making this one of the only flexible cross-platform solutions on the market.

Launch Your Startup to Success With These Security Steps

In a wave of hacking and widespread pirating, governments around the world are urging consumers and citizens to proactively protect their data. Developing enterprises, startups, and small businesses have all fallen victim to hacking, security breaches, and leaks. One way to combat this threat is by enacting better security practices in house while cloud-sourcing sensitive data storage and sync to a private cloud service. Third party cloud services allow startups to leverage the latest technology in their favor, reducing the need for expensive servers, large IT teams, and upgrades. But unless the third party cloud service provider can offer data privacy and user anonymity, sensitive company data could be left vulnerable to a breach.

The Global Rush to Cyber Security

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All around the world, governments are encouraging their businesses and startups to better protect their data. The ongoing cyber wars between China and the U.S. have put cyber security front and center for exhibiting defense companies at the recent Paris Airshow. According to Chief Executive of Alliant Techsystems, Mark DeYoung, “We, like others, are constantly being bombarded by people who are trying to get into our systems.” Companies like Boeing and Lockheed Martin have been targets of a constant bombardment of hacking attempts. And as Dave Hess, President of Pratt & Whitney, said, “The threat is not exaggerated. It’s a significant issue that we’re all struggling with.”

Mark DeYoung

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The UK government has also jumped on the cyber security train, with a £4 million campaign to raise cyber security awareness among businesses and consumers throughout the UK. This Home Office campaign is part of the UK’s National Cyber Security Programme, which seeks to educate citizens about the threat of cyber crime. According to Minister for Security James Brokenshire, “The digitization of the UK economy has made our lives easier and has created huge opportunities, but it has also created individual security risks as well. If we are to meet these new challenges it’s essential we step up our efforts to stay safe online. The threat of cyber crime is real and the criminals involved are organized and driven by profit. By making small changes British businesses can remain competitive in the global economy and consumers can have greater confidence using the Internet.”

Security Costs

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Africa is currently a hotbed of development and startups. But with this rapid growth comes the increased threat of hacking and security breaches. From notorious Nigerian 411 scams to malware and phishing attacks, many African countries have become primary sites and targets of cyber crime. Steve Santorelli, Director of Global Outreach at Team Cymru, said, “Connectivity has significantly improved in many African countries and the rate of online criminal activity has gone up, leading to better awareness among top managers and people allocating budgets.” One way the continent is combating cyber crime is through promoting and adopting CERT, a multinational organization that monitors, reports, and responds to instances of cyber crime. So far, 11 African countries have signed on to CERT including Egypt, South Africa, Ivory Coast, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco, and Sudan. Africa’s cyber security problem is highlighted by Palesa Legoze, a Director of South Africa’s Department of Communication,  “For the longest time, South Africa was number three in phishing activity, behind U.S.A. and the U.K.; this is not a government problem, it’s everyone’s problem and there is need for coronation to protect critical internet infrastructure.” As Legoze asserts, securing company and consumer data won’t come from the top down. Rather, consumers and companies must take their security in their own hands, filtering through the market to find truly private cloud solutions for their sensitive data.

A recent report from the U.S. Secret Service and PricewaterhouseCoopers, shows that only 40% of polled executives could identify how effective their security programs were. Enterprises and startups should have clear security standards, procedures, and measures to guard against security breaches that could halt productivity and even damage brands. Startups are especially at risk, as shown by a recent study conducted by Symantec. Symantec Vice President Brian Burch says, “Your business is at its most vulnerable when it’s just starting out – finances are often on a knife-edge, you worry about who to trust with your business plan and who to hire. But risks go beyond poor cash flow and personnel – in today’s digital economy, information is money, and cybercriminals are stealing whatever information they can from businesses large and small, young and old. Startups are not escaping their attention.”

Security for Startups and Enterprises

Startups and enterprises of all sizes can protect sensitive consumer and corporate data from any snooping eyes through storing and syncing with a private cloud service. For enterprises looking for a truly private cloud, SpiderOak Blue offers fully private “public” and onsite server deployment options for full flexibility. Choosing the right third party cloud service can be a challenge as many services on the market have security gaps that leave private data vulnerable to third party attacks, malware, and legal snooping. But SpiderOak sets itself apart from the rest of the market by providing a fully private cloud service featuring all of the benefits of cloud storage along with 100% data anonymity.

SpiderOak protects startup data through 256-bit AES encryption so that sensitive files and passwords stay private. Authorized accounts can store and sync sensitive data with complete privacy, because this cloud service has absolutely “zero-knowledge” of user passwords or data. And all plaintext encryption keys are exclusively stored on approved devices, as SpiderOak never hosts plaintext data. SpiderOak Blue’s private cloud services are available for enterprises on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms, along with Android and iOS mobile devices, making this one of the only cross-platform solutions on the market.

Top 5 Reasons to Care About Privacy

There has been a lot of discussion around our right to privacy and we at SpiderOak couldn’t be happier. We’ve been talking about it for years! Based on some recent conversations, we thought we’d give you five reason to care about privacy.

(1)  It’s Your Identity

You may shrug your shoulders and think, who cares if someone knows my demographics, where I shop, what I read, or what I say – they don’t really know it’s me. Online anonymity is becoming a thing of the past. The fact is, some companies may not keep your personally identifiable information (PII) but that doesn’t mean the information collected can’t or won’t be resold to other parties who are building an identifiable profile on you. Once you’ve released information into the wild, there is no getting it back – and you no longer have control over or any rights to it.

(2)  Your Information Is Worth Money – And You Don’t Want It Used Against You

Companies are paying for your information which means it’s worth cold hard cash. If you are generating something of value, why not treat it as any other asset you own? Furthermore, consider the idea that you could be discriminated against based on this information. For example, a company could charge you more for a product or service and who thinks that is a good idea? Click here to learn how this is already happening.

(3)  You Deserve It, Until You’ve Done Something Wrong

In this country, you are allowed to operate freely – which also means, privately – until you’ve done something wrong. Or at least until you’ve done something to raise the suspicions of the powers that be. Our government isn’t allowed to look over our shoulders unless they have a legitimate reason to do so. This principle was built into the founding of our country.

(4)  A Responsibility to Protect Those More At Risk

Perhaps you’ll decide keeping your data private is not a battle you care to fight but it’s still worth protecting the ability to make that choice. Stand up for the choice so others can also make it. Privacy may not be a big deal to you but it is to others like, children, teenagers, individuals who are pregnant, those dealing with health challenges, victims of abuse, activists, government and public figures, along with many more. It’s our responsibility to protect those who need help protecting themselves.

(5)  Room To Grow

Privacy allows you the space to try on something new, explore ideas, or think through decisions without lasting consequences. Having this freedom is critical to our ability to thrive as individuals and as a society.

Shadows in the PRISM: Protecting Whistleblowing

Whistleblowers and the NSA PRISM scandal have monopolized headlines throughout the 24-hour news cycle for weeks now. But the problem of protecting whistleblowers is nothing new. In 2005, a former intelligence analyst, Russ Tice blew the whistle on an allegedly unconstitutional NSA spying program that targeted U.S. citizens. On a radio show, the whistleblower even claimed that President Obama was once a target of the program. According to Tice, “in summer of 2004, one of the papers that I held in my hand was to wiretap a bunch of numbers associated with a 40-something-year-old wannabe senator for Illinois. You wouldn’t happen to know where that guy lives right now would you? It’s a big white house in Washington, D.C. That’s who they went after, and that’s the president of the United States now.”

Edward Snowden

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From future presidents to everyday citizens, whistleblowers have leaked information to the public on once-secret programs that have impacted everyone. The most buzzed about instance of recent whistleblowing is the case of Edward Snowden and the NSA PRISM program. According to Snowden, PRISM amounts to the biggest collection of private citizen user data achieved through the cooperation of tech giants like Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Facebook. The government has actively sought to detain Edward Snowden, following a pattern of aggression against whistleblowers and even journalists.

James Rosen

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According to court documents, the Obama administration secretly monitored a Fox News journalist, James Rosen, and now the FBI names him a co-conspirator. According to Jan Crawford of CBS News, this is the first time in U.S. history that a presidential administration has treated reporting the news as a crime, while branding a reporter as a criminal suspect. Rosen claimed that he could keep his source private for his 2009 scoop of classified information on North Korea’s nuclear tests. Government agents kept tabs on Rosen’s location, ransacked his emails, and checked his phone records, under the guise of national security. In his defense, President Obama said, “I don’t think the American people would expect me as commander-in-chief not to be concerned about information that might compromise their missions or might get them killed.”

But Jan Crawford, along with many transparency and privacy advocates, are not buying it. On CBS This Morning, Crawford recently gave a scathing critique of the practice of attacking whistleblowers and targeting journalists, “Now, of course, media critics (including) the American Civil Liberties Union say no presidential administration — not even the Nixon administration — went after reporters with search warrants and secret surveillance, and journalists I’m talking to in Washington … are saying they are seeing the impact of this, that their sources and whistleblowers — those people who can be so important in bringing out information to the public that the government may obviously want to keep secret — that they’re afraid to talk, that they’re staying silent. And that, they say, could be the real impact of this. If the administration kind of intimidates people into not coming forward, people stay silent and the administration gets to control the information and the story.”

The argument the Obama administration has set forth echoes the same arguments put forth against NSA whistleblower Tomas Drake and Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg. According to Jesselyn Radack, National Security & Human Rights Director for the Government Accountability Project (the biggest whistleblower protection advocacy group in the country), “If the government wants whistleblowers to stop exposing its illegal conduct, the government should stop breaking the law. At the very least, the government should protect – not prosecute – whistleblowers. In a surveillance state, whistleblowers are the new enemy, but a surveillance state is where the public most needs to hear from whistleblowers.”

Human Rights Watch

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Protecting whistleblowers has garnered widespread bi-partisan support. And the Human Rights Watch has even spoken out on this topic as a human rights issue. In a recent statement on whistleblowing, the human rights group said, “In light of these specific facts, Human Rights Watch urges the Obama administration not to prosecute Edward Snowden or other national security whistleblowers until it is prepared to explain to the public, in as much detail as possible, what the concrete and specific harms to national security his disclosures have caused, and why they outweigh the public’s right to know. If the administration truly welcomes a debate on issues of privacy, rights, and security, as President Obama has said it does, then prosecuting the man who sparked the debate is not the way to show it.” The organization went further, speaking on the Espionage Act and noting “penalties for disclosures under the Espionage Act, whose charges carry 10-year prison terms, are significantly heavier than what many other democracies impose on government agents who expose secrets.”

Keeping Secrets Safe in the Private Cloud

To keep sensitive secrets private while ensuring anonymity, whistleblowers and reporters should adhere to the suggestions in the Journalist Security Guide. After this first step, be sure to keep any secrets safe through a private third party cloud service. Many cloud services on the market have security gaps that leave sensitive information vulnerable to NSA snooping. But with SpiderOak, journalists and whistleblowers can enjoy 100% data privacy.

As for just how SpiderOak protects sensitive data, the service offers two-factor password authentication and 256-bit AES encryption so that files and passwords stay private. Two-factor authentication is just like the process used by some banking services that require a PIN as an extra precaution along with a password. Through SpiderOak, users that select two-factor authentication must submit their private code through SMS as well as an individual encrypted password. Whistleblowers can store and sync sensitive information with complete privacy, because this cloud service has absolutely “zero-knowledge” of user data. Plaintext encryption keys are only stored on the user’s chosen devices. SpiderOak’s private cloud services are available on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms, along with Android and iOS mobile devices.

Striking Back at Hackers, Pirates, & Leaks

Software and game developers constantly have to battle the threat of leaks and security breaches. With such culturally accepted and widespread pirating, a full leak or crack could undermine years of research and development, while severely cutting into potential profits. Developers can secure their projects from hacking and leaks by exclusively storing and syncing with a private cloud service.

Photoshop CC leaked onto PirateBay

Image courtesy of petapixel.com

In the face of perpetual hacking threats, developers have been forced to come up with some pretty funny ways of getting back at hackers and pirates. The developers of Arkham Asylum put in some sneaky coding that identifies once the game has been pirated, rendering aspects of the game virtually unplayable. And in the Nintendo DS version of Michael Jackson: The Experience, pirated versions play a switched out soundtrack of a vuvuzela orchestra. While these instances of pirate revenge might provide for a few laughs, they’re far from good security practices. With better practices, security standards, and private cloud storage, developers can ditch the revenge game for a virtually unbreachable data security system.

According to the research firm Forrester, the cloud has enabled companies to stay a step ahead. In a recent Wave report on the public cloud platform market, Forrester said, “Public cloud platforms are the keys that unlock the flexibility, productivity, and economic advantages of cloud computing.” When developers tap into the public cloud potential, they save big on in house server needs, large IT teams, and lost profits from hacks and leaks. Even software giants like Adobe have found their advanced efforts thwarted by savvy hackers. Only a day after the launch of Adobe Photoshop CC, pirates cracked, uploaded, and spread the software for illegal downloading. Uploaded by a user named Ching Liu, the “Adobe Photoshop CC 14.0 Final Multilanguage” torrent was soon one of the most popular software downloads on the notorious PirateBay. Adobe developers had tried to avoid such hacks by including subscription authorizations, but hackers were able to crack them, allowing pirates to use the expensive software for “free”, at the large expense of Adobe.

President Obama with Chinese President Xi Jinpin

Photo courtesy of telegraph.co.uk

And Adobe isn’t the only large company to be attacked by hacking. Recently, President Obama met with Chinese President Xi Jinpin to talk about the threat of security breaches that many Fortune 500s face on a daily basis, including Lockheed Martin, Google, and Bank of America. In addition to larger enterprises, small to medium-sized businesses, including many developers, have started to become prime targets for hacking, leaks, and pirating. According to a recent Symantec report, almost a third of all security breaches have been at the expense of a smaller business. This marks a 72% jump from the previous year, an increase that should alarm all developers.

Barabus Hacked The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile

Image courtesy of gamebreaker.tv

Another instance of developers falling victim to hacking and pirating is the case of The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile. Recently, the Russian hacker Barabus uploaded a PC port of the latest Xbox 360 game, which was previously an exclusive title for the device. Ska Studios was previously able to benefit from an exclusive contract with Xbox 360, and potential releases on other platforms could have been in the works, to further profit the developers that worked so hard on the title. According to Barabus, he cracked and uploaded the game for pirating simply because the developers had not yet released the title for PC. According to Barabus, “The view was expressed that, with respect to the authors, it is not very nice to publish the game on the PC. I have to argue that the part of the authors are not very nice to publish the game exclusively for the Xbox 360, making it impossible for PC gamers to play such a great game. Piracy — yes, that is bad. On the other hand, we did not steal the game for the Xbox 360; we released it for the PC port. Given that the developers ignored the PC platform, about any loss of profit for them is not out of the question. After all, if they wanted to earn money, then the game would be issued on all available platforms. If the game came out on PC officially, then this thread would not exist.” For developers that don’t want hackers determining their platform releases and strategy, trusting a private cloud storage and sync service can safeguard projects.

Private Cloud Solutions for Developers

SpiderOak Blue offers developers data privacy through secure public cloud and onsite server options, granting developers of all sizes flexibility. Choosing the right third party cloud service can be a challenge as many services on the market have security gaps that leave projects vulnerable to third party attacks and pirating. But SpiderOak sets itself apart from the rest of the market by providing a fully private cloud service featuring all of the benefits of cloud storage along with 100% data privacy and user anonymity.

SpiderOak protects sensitive projects through 256-bit AES encryption so that files and passwords stay private. Authorized accounts can store and sync sensitive data with complete privacy, because this cloud service has absolutely “zero-knowledge” of user passwords or data. And all plaintext encryption keys are exclusively stored on approved devices, as SpiderOak never hosts plaintext data of any kind. SpiderOak Blue’s private cloud services are available for developers on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms, along with Android and iOS mobile devices, making this one of the only flexible cross-platform solutions on the market.

Straight “A” Hackers: Keeping School Records Safe

Hackers have set their sights on universities and school records. With a single security breach, hackers have been able to access sensitive school records, alter grades, and severely damage the brands of cherished academic institutions. But schools and universities can proactively protect their students and reputations from hacking through securing student data with a private cloud storage and sync service.

Discarded school records

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Recently, three former Purdue University students were charged with 58 felonies and misdemeanors for allegedly running a grade hacking scheme. The hackers allegedly changed incomplete marks and failing grades to high marks including A’s and B’s. According to the prosecution, the suspects broke into the offices of professors and switched out their keyboards with ones that had key-logging devices installed. With the key-logging devices in place, the students were able to discern the passwords for each professor’s computer, ultimately granting access into grade programs. While grade inflation has been a topic of concern in higher education, the threat of grade hacking undermines the entire educational process.

Roy Sun and Sujay Sharma

Photo courtesy of fox59.com

Hacking even disrupts extracurricular activities and impacts prestigious institutions without prejudice. The most recent elections for president of the Oxford University Union have been a source of much controversy, especially with allegations of hacking. The Oxford University Union was forced to step down amidst a scandal involving his attempted hacking attempts, showing that students will not tolerate hacking in their institutions, even in the case of student election. Other universities that have been the victim of hacking include Chinese institutions like Fudan University, Shanghai University of Engineering Science, and the Shanghai Jiao Tong University. With a simple SQL injection, hackers have attacked Chinese college website about 113 times a day on average.

Edward Snowden

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Controversial whistleblower Edward Snowden has claimed, along with the notorious revelation of the NSA’s PRISM program, that the U.S. has routinely attacked a Hong Kong university, whose systems help route all of Hong Kong’s web traffic. According to Snowden, the National Security Agency currently has over 60,000 active hacking targets all around the world, many of which include schools and universities. Instead of holding up student data as collateral damage in the international cyber wars, universities can guard student records against attacks of all sorts by trusting sensitive data to a private cloud service that offers good encryption as well as user anonymity.

Universities around the world have turned to the cloud for savings on servers, server space, large IT staff, and maintenance fees. The scalability of the cloud makes it an obvious option for institutions with fluctuating class sizes and data needs. Recently, the University of the Philippines kicked of its first wave of cloud adoption, with promises of moving even further to the cloud in the future. Through the Google Apps for Education program, email and collaborative applications have moved to the cloud, offering UP students greater storage capacity, reliable servers, and mobile collaboration. UP Assistant Vice President for Development Jaime Caro said, “the rollout of these Google Apps for Education services is just one of the many things underway from the eUP project. In time, these accounts will be synced with the user credentials needed to access the information systems that will be deployed in phases to the campuses. Once completely rolled out to all campuses, this is expected to benefit more than 70,000 members of the UP community (students, faculty, staff): with Google Apps for Education, they will be able to boost their online productivity with 30 GB inbox space, greater file sharing capacity, and a supportive environment for online collaboration.” Elvira Zamora, UP Vice President for Development, further highlighted the benefits of the switch, “The best part is that these tools support and encourage sharing and group work online, much like physically working together in class or in the office. Through these applications, UP students, faculty, staff, and even us administrators will have greater opportunities for collaboration despite geographic constraints.” In a digital age in which more and more of traditional education is taking place online, such flexibility is essential to the survival of higher education institutions. But unless schools choose private cloud services that protect both data and identity, hackers could seize sensitive student information that could undermine the potential of both the student and the university.

SpiderOak Blue

For schools looking to the cloud, SpiderOak Blue offers fully private “public” and onsite server options for full flexibility. Choosing the right third party cloud service can be a challenge as many services on the market have security gaps that leave private student and school data vulnerable to third party attacks. But SpiderOak sets itself apart from the rest of the market by providing a fully private cloud service featuring all of the benefits of cloud storage along with 100% data anonymity.

SpiderOak protects sensitive enterprise data through 256-bit AES encryption so that files and passwords stay private. Authorized accounts can store and sync sensitive data with complete privacy, because this cloud service has absolutely “zero-knowledge” of user passwords or data. And all plaintext encryption keys are exclusively stored on approved devices, as SpiderOak never hosts plaintext data of any kind. SpiderOak Blue’s private cloud services are available for schools and universities on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms, along with Android and iOS mobile devices, making this one of the only flexible cross-platform solutions on the market.