Is your data in the cloud safe?

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It almost seems surreal that I am sitting at my keyboard writing this blog, knowing that it most likely will end up in the seemingly endless PRISM database. But I don’t need to worry, I can trust the government, right?

With NSA’s massive expansion of PRISM, many cloud companies are making statements to assure you’re your data is safe. SalesForce.com stated that “nothing is more important to salesforce.com than the privacy and security of our customers’ data. We are not involved in the PRISM program, and we do not provide any governments with direct access to Salesforce servers.” KEYWORD: Direct. What they are not saying is they may be providing their client’s information to the government.

Another denial was recently made by Amazon; Kerri Catalozzi, speaking for Amazon, said by email that the company “is not participating in PRISM (an NSA program that reportedly has agreements to collect data from nine Internet companies).” Unfortunately, nonparticipation in PRISM offers no guarantee that data isn’t being collected.

After all, Verizon, Cellcom, and AT&T all assured us in various ways that our information was safe with them.

Imagine this scenario: Your company’s CRM and accounting is in the cloud. You back-up your data to the cloud. This data becomes part of PRISM. You attend a political rally that is contrary to whatever the current sitting government believes. NSA, with PRISM, probably has enough data to destroy you, everything from your top customers, to a line-by-line accounting of every expenditure in your accounting system. Not only that, because of cloud backup, they have all the supporting documents and data.

But cloud backup data isn’t in PRISM, or is it? Have you ever read your backup contract? Let’s look at Google: Google clearly states in its terms of service that apply to all things Google: “You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.”

But where the Google policy may read a bit murky is what you entitle Google to do with your stuff: “When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.”

Accounting, CRM, back-up and many other cloud services are out there. You may be reading this and thinking you are fine. Great! I commend you. You have obviously reached a higher level of trust in the government that I can.

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