By Mamush Heayie
Jan 24, 2012

Highlighting Vulnerabilities: Will the Cloud Survive the Debacle of Megaupload?

The Megaupload contretemps has shocked everyone into awareness of vulnerabilities of the cloud. College students who enjoyed cable-less television and the pleasure of sharing their copyright infringing /non-infringing digital lockers with their friends suddenly find themselves deprived of their “entertainment” and their “possessions”. Non-Megaupload users of the cloud too have been forced to re-look at their service options and question the wisdom of entrusting their precious data exclusively to the cloud.

While “after the event” soothsayers claimed that Megaupload was guzzling bandwidth in corporate workplaces and this shutdown should be a relief, cloud advocates were concerned about the statements made in the federal indictment that Megaupload’s servers were hosting more than 25 petabytes of data. A number of legitimate users have lost all their data and hosting servers who serviced Megaupload have lost a lot of money in fees. Adding insult to injury “reincarnated” Megaupload sites are popping up all over the Internet causing distress to already distressed subscribers! The revival of the original site itself seems to be in question and downcast patrons are getting ready to move on a few hours after the raid and shutdown.

Some cloud sharing service providers have entirely disabled the sharing functionalities. One such company, FileSonic, has posted a message in its home page: “All sharing functionality on FileSonic is now disabled. Our service can only be used to upload and retrieve files that you have uploaded personally.”

Cloud users around the world watching the debacle with interest are secretly speculating if all cloud services will go down the same road soon. Since Megaupload had no warning of the raid and consequently could not warn its users before it vanished off the face of the Internet, cloud users have begun to question guarantees given by other popular cloud services. They wonder if they will be able to offload their data quickly before a federal raid destroys their chance of rescuing their precious asset.

The fear is very real. What is the way forward? Perhaps the need will foster innovation? Will this fear be reflected in a scramble for data recovery from the cloud on to onsite data stores? Perhaps, cloud service providers, who encourage the use of their onsite backup hardware in tandem with their cloud, may find themselves at an advantage? Cloud service providers must address these fears and come up with solutions if they want to survive such a disaster! Crumbling confidence must be restored.

The answers lie in the womb of the future. Let us wait and watch. It is not easy to vaporize the cloud which has withstood the test of time and proved its usefulness to the enterprise and the individual. Testing times we know, bring out the best in everyone. The problem will generate the solution.

It is understood that online backup companies that do not provide file sharing services are safe from such government seizures; and those companies that provide file sharing services, with special focus on SMBs and/or enterprises, could also be safe from seizures as copyright infringements usually occur amongst consumers. However, I will not be surprised if more sites similar to Megaupload get shut down by the US Government in the coming weeks and months; but a typical online backup and file sharing company should not fret over this.

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