Six of the best: Scams, shams and snoopers

The latest edition of CloudTech’s look at the best links from around the web has a slightly nefarious tint to it, with stories of scammers, snoopers and sham artists. Thankfully though, there are some good news stories further down, proving good things come to those who wait.

1)  Beware: The cloud’s Ponzi schemes are here [Infoworld]

David Linthicum, writing for Infoworld, sheds light on an announcement by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, who killed off a worldwide pyramid scheme targeting Asian and Latino communities in the US and abroad, promising return on investment for purchasing cloud computing services.

“Investors were told they would receive ‘points’ for making investments or enrolling other investors,” a release from the SEC explained. “The points would be convertible into equity in initial public offerings of high-tech companies their money would help launch.”

Did these philanthropic companies stick to their word? Of course not. Yet Linthicum has a stark warning for enterprises; while it’s easy to poke fun at these obviously shady schemes, more sophisticated scams – like reselling public cloud services and violating agreements in the process – might be more difficult to spot.

Boot up: The SEC asserts that a portion of the money was used in Ponzi-style investor payments, while other money went on purchasing US based properties and, erm, golf courses.

2)  TechOne chief slams ‘fake’ cloud experts as company bags new deal [Australian Financial Review]

As software company TechnologyOne bagged a deal to provide state-wide school admin software to Victoria, the company’s executive chairman Adrian Di Marco told the Australian Financial Review that ‘false prophet’ cloud consultants were ‘a real blight on our industry.’

“I think there will be a lot of disasters alongside the success stories, because there are two worlds emerging: the false cloud and the true cloud,” he said, adding: “Hopefully people will start being able to differentiate between the two of them soon.”

Boot up: Di Marco also explained that ‘the last thing people should be doing’ was to pay a consultancy firm a fee to be told ‘to take what they have and whack it into the cloud.’

It’s little wonder that industry surveys extolling the virtues of cloud are so popular – particularly the research from Capita IT Services telling CIOs to “embrace [the] cloud or be left behind.” Yet there’s plenty of healthy scepticism out there too: a report from Okta claimed that for seven in 10 organisations, data security remains a serious concern for cloud adoption.

3)  Beware of ‘cloud’ computing snoopers, law firms warned [Law Gazette]

The Law Society has warned firms looking to move their IT into the cloud that there is a risk of lawful interception by intelligence agencies.

In a practice note, the society advocates picking a CSP that offers ‘appropriate contractual commitments and operational practices.’

Boot up: The report, assuming the majority of its audience is not au fait, offers a definition of cloud computing in the first paragraph – with a quote from Sam de Silva, chair of the Law Society’s technology and law reference group, claiming “there is no empirical evidence but my gut feeling is that cloud systems are more open to interception.”

Research from LexisNexis in January revealed that nearly three quarters (72.4%) of law firms said they were more likely to use the cloud this year, with almost a quarter of respondents believing their employees were already using cloud tools without the law firm’s knowledge or approval. William Long, a partner at Sidley Austin LLP, gave his take on privacy and data protection for cloud in 2014, whilst Kenneth N Rashbaum and Jason M Tenenbaum, of Rashbaum Associates, have detailed how relatively straightforward it is for law firms to move their data to the cloud.

4)  Does small business success lie up in the clouds? [BBC News]

Babes With Babies, an online retail company for new and expectant mothers, is a cloud-based business – there is no physical office and all staff work remotely from the UK, Dubai and France.

Sophie Devonshire, who runs the company, describes how an ‘unremitting focus on customer service’ makes a cloud-based business work – even though as a retailer, naturally, order handling and warehousing still has to be done physically.

Boot up: Skype, Sage Pay, a weekly conference call and Dropbox make up the ingredients for the virtual office, even though Dropbox suffered outage problems at the start of the year. Vendors are actively looking into giving small businesses a leg up – see Rackspace putting in £250,000 of support back in November – but with the general availability of Amazon WorkSpaces announced last week, there’s an increasingly enticing avenue for companies to move to a virtual office.

5)  CloudGOO lets you consolidate Dropbox, Google Drive, and other cloud storage [NDTV]

Speaking of Dropbox, isn’t it annoying when you’ve got multiple cloud storage accounts? 2 GB here, 5 GB there – well, an app by the name of CloudGOO allows you to smash it all together in one big cloud storage offering.

Gopal Sathe, writing for NDTV, suggests that with this app, you can hoover up all the free storage going and put it together to get more bang for your buck. The app, which costs 60p (99c), has support for offline access as well as functionality to choose which type of files to store.

Boot up: CloudGOO’s reviews all point to a similar story: good interface and good idea, but a general reluctance to give the app every account detail. The company has responded to these concerns, noting that the official APIs of the service providers are used; users enter information on their screens and forms; and the company doesn’t store user information.

CloudTech is reminded of the FaceWiped product launch on April 1 which promised to be ‘the only way to completely erase your entire online presence’ by urging users to simply send the company their name, social media details and bank account passwords. Thankfully, one had to only look at the date to see the veracity of that story.

CloudGOO is only available on Android for now, but an iOS equivalent is rumoured to be on its way.

6)  And finally: A couple more cloud-for-good stories we wanted to include: the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust is to save over £1m in costs across five years by replacing its legacy telephone service with a cloud-based system, while the Glyndebourne opera company explains to V3 how moving to Google’s cloud services means “the IT department has far fewer worries.”

This is an occasional feature showcasing the editorial team’s favourite cloud computing stories from across the web. Read the last Six of the Best – seat swapping, storage and smack talk – here.

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