Don’t be a cloud tool, use them as tools!


Ruben's Super Detailed Gradient of Cloud Computing

This seemingly random comment from Sandrew Loset on an old blog post about Twitter sparked this post! I need to do more feedback entries like this :).

The quote is the moat

Twitter, Google, Facebook & PGE Smartmeters exist only to spy on you and sell your information to advertisers. They spy on every single thing you do, look at, click on and sell it.

They also will give the information to people who are suing you and to any agency that requests it. Don’t use them.

Get privacy software on your computer. Don’t be a tool for them anymore.

Clearly Sandrew noticed I was discussing Twitter and dropped in his cookie cutter response that had nothing to do with what I was talking about, but a comment is a comment nonetheless and I think he raises a good point! I know this because it's largely what I've been saying here for years, right down to the concerns regarding law enforcement.

% diff Sandrew Ruben

Where Sandrew Loset and I differ are on the pragmatic details. Sure the easy thing to do is to refrain from using any cloud services, but this is becoming an increasingly untenable position, particularly as more services move online and more of our applications are web based.

No, instead of abstaining from them outright, cloud services must be seen as tools like any other, and as such the key to using them effectively is to be smart. As I've repeatedly stated here over the years, don't use cloud services for confidential or private information, assume your material is always in the clear, and if you must store material of a sensitive nature, not only encrypt it but ensure only you know the keys.

Icon from the Tango Desktop Project

This isn't limited to cloud computing, our internet enabled smartphones (and even regular phones) are tracked based on tower coordinates, and our computers can be traced with an IP address (this will only become easier with IPv6 and the inevitable decline of NAT). We sacrifice as much privacy online as we want for the extraordinary utility we derive from it. It's a continuum, and though I tend to place my pin closer to the privacy side, I still use Twitter publicly, I have Google accounts (though no longer for email) and a Facebook profile with a fake name and even faker details.

Sandrew reminds us to remain vigilant, which is a worthy lesson. That said, I advocate something cheekier. Don't be a tool for cloud services, make them a tool for you.

Author bio and support


Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

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