Cloud Computing – The Perfect Storm?

Cloud Computing

Wired technology journalist Mat Honan was preparing for the weekend last Friday when hackers infiltrated his private accounts.  They utilized security holes at Amazon.com and Apple to get into his iCloud account.  From there, they also gained access to his Gmal account, wiped the data from his personal devices (MacBook, iPhone) and took over his Twitter account.

The hackers used a rather simple approach when stealing Honan’s information.  Here was the process:

  1. They found Honan’s home address and email online
  2. The hackers called Amazon.com tech support and used this information to get the last four digits of his credit card
  3. Once acquired, they called Apple customer support and gained access to his iCloud account using his billing address and credit card numbers to verify his identity.
  4. Honan’s iCloud included his Gmail information and all accounts associated with it, like Twitter.
  5. The hackers then spammed Honan’s Twitter account and wiped an enormous amount of data from his various devices.

Wired investigators tested the hacker’s approach by successfully conducting the process on another account themselves.

Honan, understandably upset, thinks this incident may be a wake-up call to many who store their information using cloud technology.  “My experience leads me to believe that cloud-based systems need fundamentally different security measures,” Honan stated.  “Password-based security mechanisms- which can be cracked, reset and socially engineered- no longer suffice in the era of cloud computing.”

For the entire press release visit http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/06/tech/mobile/icloud-security-hack/index.html

 How Cloud Computing Works

In the past, corporations have had to purchase new computers and software licenses constantly in order to ensure their employees had the correct tools for the job.   Those days are over.  Now, computer users are rejoicing the simplicity and effectiveness of a new technology- cloud computing.

The process is rather simple.  Users load a single application onto their computer, opposed to the surplus of software required in past years.  This allows workers to log into a web-based service which hosts the programs he/she needs for the job.  Independently-owned remote machines run everything from email to complex data analysis programs.  Local computers no longer have to take the bulk of the load while running applications- the cloud consists of network computers that handle this.  Hardware and software necessity on the user’s side plummets, with the only requirement being interface software (which can be as simple as a web browser).  The cloud’s network handles the rest.

Disadvantages of Cloud Computing

The cloud system has already been applauded and utilized for its variety of beneficial elements, but that doesn’t mean it does not come with downsides.  Here are a few negative aspects for those of you looking to make the jump to the cloud:

1)      You are no longer directly in control.  You can’t simply log onto a server to see what’s happening.  With the cloud, you have to open a ticket just like you were an end user.  SLAs will make sure you receive acceptable service levels, but consider the change that comes from giving up control and relying on someone else.

2)      It’s a poor equalizer.  With cloud services, the CEO of the company is no different than the receptionist- they’re both simply users of the service and ultimately, receive equal attention.

3)      Limited customization.  Typically, clouds use the most current versions of whatever software they include.  However, these programs tend to offer the “cookie cutter” version and only enable the most popular features.

4)      IT staff and hardware are still needed.  Although cloud users may have less servers or IT tasks to deal with, it does not mean they can do away with their equipment and employees altogether.  This may come as a shock to those who thought the cloud would hinder everything before obsolete.

Like most technology, there are positive and negative repercussions from using cloud services.  Although the overall concept seems like an overwhelming benefit to a company, be aware of the negative sides as well.  When considering a cloud service, be sure to read the fine print and ask questions about specific scenarios with your provider before moving forward.

Keywords Meta Tag is Unimportant to Search Engines

Keywords Meta TagSearch engine optimization involves improving the volume and quality of traffic to your website from search engines.  For this process to work, you need to provide a variety of keywords for your site- meta keywords included.  Meta keywords used to be a huge influence on getting your website ranked in search engines, but currently these keywords seem to be useless for SEO purposes.  But why?

In the past, webmasters could easily spam each search.  They would fill their meta tags with tons of keywords which helped them to get good rankings very quickly.  Today, search engines such as Google are refining their algorithms to place no importance on meta keywords, but rather the content of your webpage.  Therefore, it is recommended that you spend more time preparing quality content on your page rather than on meta keywords.

These keywords are essentially high-level data about what a particular page on a website is about.  However, when the search engine spiders crawl your website they ignore these keywords and focus their attention instead to the content generated on the page.  Content is king in the world of SEO.

This has been public knowledge for years, yet many individuals who are new to SEO still focus on meta keywords.  If you can ignore this aspect of your SEO plan, you will be able to devote more time to important items like writing quality content.  In order to prevent website owners and SEOs from spamming search engines with meta tags, Google had to announce that they would de-emphasize them.  Now, the Google algorithm has become so advance that it can understand what a website is about without even looking to meta or description tags.

So, keep your focus on writing unique and helpful content.  This will naturally generate links for your website and create an online opinion of your content which plays a large role in search engine rankings.

Alexa’s Angels

Alexas Angels Testimonial

 “Alexa’s Angels has worked with I Point for over 2 ½ years, and we’ve been very happy. The services we have used has ranged from simple email questions to configuring new computers and reworking our entire network. Mark has made himself available at all hours of the day. We call them at a moment’s notice and they are always there to solve the problem.”

-Linda Tomberlin, Accounting