Beware of the iCloud

iCloud raises serious questions: what does Apple plan to do to deliver a secure experience? What do businesses need to do to protect sensitive corporate data

ICloud, Apple's new cloud storage service, which officially launches this week, is an iPad/iPhone lover's dream and IT security professional's nightmare.

Apple's breathless marketing pitch says it all: "iCloud stores your music, photos, apps, calendars, documents and more. And wirelessly pushes them to all your devices - automatically. It's the easiest way to manage your content. Because you don't have to.''

How do you stay secure with Apple iCloud?

At first blush, iCloud, which will be free with iOS 5, sounds great. All services previously available under Apple's MobileMe system will be moved over, including contacts, calendar, and email. All apps and ebooks will be instantly available on up to 10 linked devices. Users will get 5GB of free storage - but content purchased from Apple doesn't count toward this total. For an extra fee, users can buy additional storage. There's also the iTunes Match service, which makes personal music collections, including music not purchased through iTunes, available through the cloud.

There are other vendors offering cloud-based storage - DropBox,, and Mozy, among dozens of others. But the only competitor to offer close to the range of functionality offered by Apple is Amazon, with its Cloud Drive product.

Like iCloud, Amazon Cloud Drive offers 5GB of free storage, and unlimited free storage for all digital content purchased through Amazon. Additional storage is less expensive with Amazon - $20 for an additional 20GB, while Apple's preliminary release indicates $40 per year for an additional 20GB.

But the big difference between Apple iCloud and Amazon - and all other online backup systems - is that iCloud's functionality will be very tightly integrated with both Apple devices and third-party applications. For example, app developers could use the iCloud to store data such as high scores and in-game credits, without having to set up their own Web services. Users would be automatically signed in the minute they opened the app - no need to create new user accounts for each game or application.

Similarly, users will no longer need to connect their iPhones or iPads to a computer to do a backup of the device. Instead, synching will happen automatically, wirelessly, and in the background.

With Apple iCloud, it's a one-stop-shop, says Brian Greenberg, CEO of storage vendor General Systems Dynamics. "Other cloud platforms have some of the services that iCloud will have, but not everything... Though we're used to using multiple services for different products, having to log into different sites for all these services can complicate life."

One company already planning to take advantage of the new features is Munich-based Algoriddim, which makes consumer audio software.

"We have the Djay app on the Mac, iPhone and iPad, with slightly different features and price points," says Frederik Seiffert, the company's head of product development. "What we plan to do is give the user a seamless experience when they use our app on different platforms. Some users might use the iPhone version to try out mixing some songs while they're on the bus. Later on, when they're at home or in the club and DJ'ing live, or Mac or iPad version would have those markers, those queue points, automatically synched."

The users won't need to set up a new user account when they first use the app, and Algoriddim won't need to set up its own Web-based synching functionality, he says, benefitting everyone involved.

"It's a natural progression for Apple and validates where technology is going in general these days," says Ed Laczynski, vice president of cloud strategy for Datapipe, a Jersey City, N.J.-based IT and cloud services provider. "I have some of the beta stuff from them, playing around with the SDK [software development kit], and it's finally going to untether the iPhone from the computer."

Datapipe uses iPads as presentation devices in its conference rooms, loading them up with marketing materials and supplementary documents.

"This cloud capability will make it even easier for us to deploy [an iPad]," he says. "We can sync it up without having to physically connect it to the computer."

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags iCloudApplestoragesecurity

More about Amazon Web ServicesAppleBox.netExcelGood TechnologyMicrosoftMobileIronSASStarbucksTechnology

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Maria Korolov

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place