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August 10, 2012

Apple Co-Founder Wozniak Says Cloud Will Cause ‘Horrible Problems’

Robert Gelber

After a performance of Mike Daisey’s “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” in Washington DC, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak expressed concerns about cloud technologies. During a question and answer session after the show, the mastermind behind the immensely popular Apple II didn’t hold back, saying there would be “horrible problems in the next five years” adding, “it’s going to be horrendous.” His comments echoed similar worries captured in cloud computing surveys: unease about the loss of control associated with cloud services. Phys.org covered the story in an article earlier this week

Wozniak’s primary complaint about cloud technology is that services give end users a false sense of security regarding the ownership of their data. He went on to say:

With the cloud, you don’t own anything. You already signed it away through the legalistic terms of service with a cloud provider that computer users must agree to. I want to feel that I own things … A lot of people feel, ‘Oh, everything is really on my computer,’ but I say the more we transfer everything onto the web, onto the cloud, the less we’re going to have control over it.

As if to prove Wozniak’s point, earlier this week tech reporter Mat Honan fell victim to a hack, which compromised his Google and Twitter accounts. Also, his iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air were remotely wiped as the hacker(s) gained access to his iCloud account. He described the incident in detail a few days ago.

While Honan’s issues were certainly unfortunate, he blamed himself in part for failing to regularly back up critical data. On the other hand, it appears the exploit was more human error than technical. The hackers gained entry into Honan’s digital life through faults in customer service operations at Apple and Amazon. An Apple representative gave the hacker access to Honan’s iCloud account, which began the chain of events.

Network World has reported that Apple and Amazon have since updated their security practices to avoid similar events in the future. They also spoke with Alan Shimel, managing partner at The CISCO Group, who provided some insights regarding the matter. His suggestion is that cloud providers need to move beyond passwords, explaining that end users would be more secure with a two-factor method of authentication.

Apple may already be working on new end user security standards, as they recently agreed to acquire AuthenTec for $356 million. The company was known for enabling secure access to networks and mobile devices with identity management and fingerprint scanners.

Ultimately, security concerns exist in all technologies and cloud services are no exception. As long as end users are aware of the potential threats, they can better protect against unwanted access.

Image caption: Steve Wozniak of Apple Computer, Inc. in the late 1970s with an Apple II model personal computer. Source.