Cloud Computing Makes the Internet More Reliable and Secure, Except When It Doesn’t

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Media Outlet: Slate Future Tense

Josephine Wolff wrote for Slate about the centralized vulnerability of cloud computing services:

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for the internet. First, Google researchers revealed a serious vulnerability that was causing private data to be leaked from some websites supported by Cloudflare. Then, other Google researchers announced that they had broken the popular encryption algorithm SHA-1. Finally, just when you thought your faith in the internet couldn’t sink any lower, an Amazon data center in Virginia started having problems Tuesday, causing major outages for a number of sites that rely on the company’s popular Amazon Web Services infrastructure.
At this point, we practically expect that whatever personal information we enter into websites will be stolen. But this is different. These incidents point to weaknesses in some of the most ubiquitous and trusted brands (and algorithms) in technology—thousands of organizations and millions of people rely on Cloudflare, Amazon Web Services, and SHA-1 every day. And, in fact, part of the point and promise of using cloud computing services, like Amazon Web Services, is to ease the burden for every individual company owner and website operator.

Author:

Josephine Wolff was a Class of 2016 & 2017 Cybersecurity Initiative Fellow at New America, where she will write a book about cybersecurity incidents from the last decade, tracing their economic and legal aftermath and their impact on the current state of technical, social, and political lines of defense.