Hacking Secret: What Hackers don’t Want You to Know (2015)
CHAPTER 4: SHOULD YOU BE PUTTING YOUR INFORMATION ONLINE?
There are many reasons that people choose to put their information online. For one thing, it’s getting pretty difficult not to. For another, it’s simply more convenient to store all of your information in one place. In fact, that’s why so many companies are requiring you to use this method of information storage, it’s easier for them as well.
The benefits of storing your information online are typically convenience as we mentioned because you don’t have to keep track of a lot of different documents or files. If you have a filing cabinet you know how hard it is to organize every piece of paper you come into contact with. You never know which information is important or how long you should keep it and you end up with all kinds of documents scattered throughout your house or filling up that filing cabinet and you don’t get rid of anything.
When you are able to store your information online it goes to something called the cloud. The cloud is kind of like a filing cabinet, but it’s online instead of sitting somewhere in your home. Because of this, it doesn’t take up any of your space and instead takes up space on a server somewhere (the server is what runs the computer). And with a cloud service it’s not being stored on your server but on someone else’s. You don’t have to worry about using up all your space on a computer with all that information either.
Because all of your information is stored in one place it’s much easier to find it if you ever need anything. So if you get something from the IRS and you need copies of your tax returns from three years ago you can easily find them and send them in. If your bank says you didn’t make the payment on your credit card last month you can easily find the statement and send it to them. If your sister says she never got the check you say you sent her you can look that up as well. All the information is stored together.
Another benefit of this is that you don’t lose things. You can rest assured that the information will stay on that cloud server until you decide to get rid of it. You don’t have to worry about anything accidentally getting misplaced or thrown away. You get to monitor everything and you get to continue adding to or taking away from your cloud server. Of course, it is possible to fill your cloud server but that will take a lot of time (and you can always purchase more space on the server just like you would purchase another filing cabinet if you ran out of room).
One other benefit is the security. Even though all of your information is stored together it is safer than it is in your own home. This is because the safety protocols (virus scanners, algorithms, authentications and more) that are used to protect the information on that server are a lot stronger than anything you could put in your own home, making the information more difficult to access by anyone, even if they are an accomplished hacker. They will have to break through each of these protocols in order to access anything at all and there are definitely a lot of separate protocols there.
So what are the bad parts of having that cloud server store all of your information? Well the main drawback is that all of your information is in one place. When someone is looking for your social security number they can find it right next to your bank account numbers. They can also find things like your birthdate, your home address and even medical bills. All of these things can make it much easier for someone to steal your identity and they are able to get all of the information at once instead of hacking into separate areas.
What this means is an experienced hacker could get all of your information and get out much more quickly than they can get into the ten or more different servers that would normally store your information (your bank, credit cards and government information is already automated even if you choose not to use a cloud server). They have only one area to break into after all. Each of those individual servers is going to have plenty of protocols as well which will still make it difficult to access but they are separate which means they may not be able to access everything.
Another drawback for this type of information storage is that you may find it difficult to get into the information yourself. Because there are so many protocols in effect to keep track of your information and keep it safe you may have difficulty remembering all of the passwords and authentication codes that are necessary to get in. Even if you store your information individually on the server of that company (for example, the IRS, the government, banks, credit unions, etc.) you will need to remember passwords, security questions and more just to get in and see the information being stored.
Keep in mind that information being stored on servers like this one is not always going to be available. There will be times that your information is going to be ‘offline’ because the server is receiving maintenance or because there is a power outage or internet outage. If these things happen you will not be able to access the information until the server comes back online. This can be a drawback because you never know when these things are going to happen and you may need access to some of your information while the server is down.