There was a recent ruling by top european court that ruled a system used to authorise personal data transfers to the US as invalid. It has been three weeks since the European Court of Justice ruled that US firms signed up to the Safe Harbour scheme could no longer be automatically considered to provide “adequate protection” to personal data they had received from the EU.
Following on from this many IT managers for schools have advised educators to stop using dropbox and many other cloud products.
We’ve recently seen many hacks of Dropbox and other similar services in the news so to me it comes to no surprise that this action is being taken by schools. If something that was not made in the EU (like Dropbox) is considered unsafe for use in schools then the schools would have to consider migrating all their data away to other services.
However, where might Dropbox come into play for the actual mass user base (i.e. the students/pupils)? Some students might prefer to start work on some homework at school and then upload it to their online storage service of choice (such as Dropbox). The student would then log into their account for their online storage service of choice and then pick up their work and then continue to work on it before uploading it back up to their online storage.
So what’s the whole worry about this? Well if a student were to have their account hacked then they could potentially lose all their work.
However, this might not be such a bad thing thanks to USB flash drives. In a similar fashion students might carry a USB flash drive with them that they would use to transfer their work to and from school. This is indeed a very convenient thing. However, if a student were clumsy enough to break or lose that flash drive then that’s all their work gone and they would have to go to the pain of either trying to get their work back or re-writing their work.
With that being said this is where online storage services such as Dropbox or Google Drive come into play. If a student has a copy of their work stored on a USB flash drive and on Dropbox and they lose the USB flash drive then they still have a spare copy of their work stored online.This is why having an account on some online storage is still good. I can understand if you are slightly scared of storing your documents and other things online. Especially if you are a school and want to make sure that your students’ information is safe then perhaps migrating away from some of these services is the best step forward.
Now you might be asking “sure, but what about the safety of data?”. Well, if this ruling says that storing your work on a service from the USA is unsafe and does not provide enough protection, then that could potentially apply to other services. Every online storage service has it’s flaws. Again, Dropbox has been hacked previously and so has Apple’s iCloud service. These flaws have been covered in the past and have been a cause for concern.
I guess what I am trying to say to users is this: It’s a free market. If you don’t trust or like them, don’t use an online storage service. Nobody is forcing you to use them. Perhaps it’s best that you don’t store any information online at all.
Are you scared of putting your documents online for the purpose of a back up copy? If so, why? Let me know in the comments.