Remember Arnold Schwarzenegger’s movie “Eraser” in which people’s identities were erased?

And remember those big crocodiles who feasted on the bad guys in the zoo as they chased Arnold?

If all your life resides in the “cloud” somewhere, then you are at risk of seeing all your information hacked and altered – if not erased entirely – and there aren’t any big crocs or Arnold around to help you escape. 

Just ask Mat Honan, a senior writer at Wired and a tech veteran, who was hacked – big time.

“In the space of one hour, my entire digital life was destroyed,” he wrote this week in a compelling horror story.

“First my Google account was taken over, then deleted. Next my Twitter account was compromised, and used as a platform to broadcast racist and homophobic messages. And worst of all, my AppleID account was broken into, and my hackers used it to remotely erase all of the data on my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook.”

He blames himself, noting his accounts were “daisy-chained together.”

Honan also notes that he had failed to “regularly” backup data on his MacBook.

However, Honan also points the figure of blame at Amazon and Apple cloud services.

“But what happened to me exposes vital security flaws in several customer service systems, most notably Apple’s and Amazon’s,” he wrote.

“Apple tech support gave the hackers access to my iCloud account. Amazon tech support gave them the ability to see a piece of information — a partial credit card number — that Apple used to release information. In short, the very four digits that Amazon considers unimportant enough to display in the clear on the web are precisely the same ones that Apple considers secure enough to perform identity verification. The disconnect exposes flaws in data management policies endemic to the entire technology industry, and points to a looming nightmare as we enter the era of cloud computing and connected devices.”


I’ve never been a big fan of “cloud” computing. Despite the benefits of shared processing and the convenience of sharing all data across multiple devices, the risks of losing everything – as an individual or as a company –  are very high.

As InformationWeek proclaimed on its cover June 11: “Does the cloud pay off? When it comes to infrastructure-as-a-service, the evaluation must go well beyond the price.”

Amen to that.

My concerns extend beyond security, however. As recent outages and technical problems on the Apple and Amazon clouds clearly demonstrate, there are reliability risks, too. Can your company afford to be without service for hours? Do you have service reliability and performance requirements spelled out in your contracts?

At the personal level, put all your eggs in one basket and be ready to pay the price for failure.

Be careful, or you and your company too will be erased.