Writer’s iCloud hacked as Wozniak calls cloud “horrendous”

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is hardly sitting on the fence with his opinions on the cloud

Speaking after a performance of Mike Daisey’s monologue “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs”, Steve Wozniak was in uncompromising mood concerning his thoughts on cloud computing.

Wozniak reportedly told the packed theatre audience: “I think [cloud’s] going to be horrendous. I think there are going to be a lot of horrible problems in the next five years”.

Five years is a long time. According to Gartner, four years is all it will take for a third of consumers’ digital content to end up in the cloud.

Wozniak added: “With the cloud, you don’t own anything. The more we transfer everything onto the cloud, the less we’re going to have control over it”.

As a result, it's easy to sympathise with the unfortunate story of US journalist Mat Honan, who will doubtless have Wozniak’s words ringing in his ears.

Honan’s iCloud, along with his Twitter, Google, iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air, all went down or were remotely wiped in a frenzied period of activity over the weekend.

What appears to be most worrying is that Honan’s iCloud password was a seven digit alphanumeric which wasn’t used anywhere else.

So at least Honan passed the first test, unlike the anonymous unfortunate whose Dropbox password was reused on a third party website which was later compromised, leading to hackers finding the treasure of a huge emailing list to whom it sent unsolicited spam.

Evidence of more sophisticated hacking at play was evinced on the former Gizmodo writer’s blog. An update, purportedly from the hacker, stated that mere guessing and brute force wasn’t the reason for the leak.

Thus Honan’s previous admittance that his iCloud password hadn’t changed in several years was something of a red herring. Despite this, Honan noted he “can’t be at all certain" of the hacker's authenticity.

What appeared to transpire, in another update, was that the culprits used “clever social engineering” on Apple’s tech support team to get Honan’s password.

What’s the solution? Perhaps backing your files up, but that’s hardly a ringing endorsement for cloud security, nor does it make moving to the cloud any more convenient.

“Because I’m a jerk who doesn’t back up data, I’ve lost more than a year’s worth of photos, emails, documents and more,” Honan admitted.

Given the possibility that a mere bit of social schmoozing was the indicator for Honan’s digital nightmare, is this a cloud problem or an Apple problem? Do you agree or empathise with Steve Wozniak’s worries about migrating data to the cloud?

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7 Aug 2012, 1:17 p.m.

As Steve Wozniak rightly says, there is a genuine real worry “about everything going to the cloud". When the Web arrived, we had the choice to ignore it and say it's 'not secure' or we could layer security on, with SSL, and use it for business. With the Cloud, it's the same choice. If we shun it as 'not secure', then we miss out on its great advantages. It's better to layer security on, with a broker, and use it for business. Vordel recommends you adopt a "Don't trust, and verify" approach to using the Cloud. A Cloud Service Broker enables you to encrypt, or simply strip out, sensitive information before it can reach the Cloud. It also allows you to hedge your investment in Cloud services, by not locking yourself into any one provider.


12 Aug 2012, 4:22 p.m.

For those who are making 'all cloud' decisions simply because of its promises then naivety will have consequences. All clouds are not born equal and some are not as resilient and secure as others which in turn will deliver a different outcome on its participants. Cloud is an over hyped and over marketed word representing too much of a swathing all encompassing term.

More education is needed on cloud at all levels, more understanding of what questions to ask and when/where to utilise cloud appropriately.

Ian Moyse