Even if you’ve never heard of cloud computing, you’ve probably used it. Every time you check email from your phone or stream a movie to your TV, you’re accessing the cloud: data that “lives” elsewhere and can be accessed from anywhere. We talked to computer science professor Charlie Wiseman about the rise of cloud computing and its implications for data security.
How has cloud computing changed the relationship between people and their computers?
Until recently, everyone had to store things like digital photos on their computer. And it was a disaster if your computer crashed and all your photos were just gone. In the cloud computing paradigm, all of your pictures are stored somewhere else, so you can access them from anywhere and it doesn’t matter if your actual computer dies.
Is there a future where personal computer hardware becomes obsolete?
That’s one possibility. Another related possibility is that your computer becomes very minimal: Just a keyboard, screen, and mouse, and all of your personal information is kept on your cell phone—something you have on you all the time. Then, when you sit down at your computer, you plug in your phone and the computer recognizes you and gives you access to things like your email and your pictures.
As cloud computing grows more prevalent, how do the risks of cyber terrorism increase?
Cyber terrorists or other governments are unlikely to find data if it is only stored on my computer because it is one of millions. But if that data is stored on the server farms of a couple of companies, they only have to attack one place rather than hundreds of thousands of places.