Don’t call it ‘the cloud’. Call it ‘someone else’s computer’

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
@[email protected]

Last week I was interviewed by Computing journalist Danny Palmer, about all things IT-related.

Here’s a snippet that some of you might appreciate:

Replacing all instances of the word “cloud” with “somebody else’s computer” might make organisations stop and think about the security implications of cloud computing.

That’s according to computer security expert Graham Cluley. He believes the “trendy” use of the word “cloud” has been responsible for a certain carelessness by organisations as they ship their data off to cloud providers without properly considering how sensitive data could be vulnerable if stored this way, especially if it isn’t encrypted.

What do you think?

CloudDo you find organisations understand the risks associated with storing data on other company’s computers “in the cloud”? Are they taking appropriate measures to protect their most essential information and reduce the chances of it falling into the wrong hands?

I’m not saying that cloud services should be avoided at all costs. There’s no doubt that they can bring enormous value and assistance to consumers and businesses in many situations.

But I do think that it might be helpful to toss out the word “cloud” and, when wearing our security hats, say what it really is: somebody else’s computer.

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And while we’re on the subject, check out the “Cloud to Butt” browser extension which can change every reference to the “cloud” to “my butt” as the following screenshots show.

Microsoft Office in my butt

How stuff works in my butt

More examples here, for those of you with a similarly juvenile sense of humour.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

4 comments on “Don’t call it ‘the cloud’. Call it ‘someone else’s computer’”

  1. Shakib Ahmad

    This is exactly what I am telling my clients, Some One Else's Computer. I never trust Cloud Storage companies.

    These days its not so hard to setup your own cloud storage with so many Network Storage drives available.

    But at the end it all depends how sensitive your data is to decide whether its safe to store them in some one else's computer:-)

  2. Hi Graham,
    Very good to demystify this fairy tale kind of language, Graham! I can't agree more on this and this is one of the reasons I started more and more to return to the pre-cloud era: I just started to unsubscribe from some 'cloud'-services and replace them by good-old backups on solid easy-plug-and-play hard-drives . Those prices came down so quick it's really more safe and economical than using overpaid online services which at the same time memory-hungry, slowing down the computer. I will keep one 'cloud' service, just because I'm lazy and I love to quickly and easily store and share some -innocent- stuff.

    Great to tell us Graham, I will share the story with my friends online, if it were just to stop this thoughtlessly use of the word Cloud.
    'Cloud' and 'Social' : they both are such abused concepts in computing world!

    Thanks for your articles Graham., they're high-quality and helpful.


  3. This is exactly what I have been saying as well! "You mean… store it on someone ELSE'S computer, right?". Usually puts the brakes on pretty quick.

  4. Tim

    There are better solutions out there that don't require us to hand the keys to the company over to another company. I've never trusted cloud computing for our business for just this reason.

    We do use cloud storage for some things, but I always tell our employees only to store things there that we are willing to share publicly. Otherwise there WILL come a day when we'll have to either pay ransom to get our information, or have to publicly explain why we entrusted critical information to strangers.

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