February 2011

Yesterday’s newspaper had a good rant in the letters to the editor about stupid enterprises, where more than 60% had not outsourced their email to the cloud yet.  It got me thinking: Are the enterprise managers avoiding the cloud stupid?  Or might they be reacting according to some of the basically sound principles for security

  • If I do not understand it, avoid it. True security assessments can only be made for things I understand. Since the cloud email solutions are somewhat new, they tend to get bitten by this.  And some of the business models are not well understood, or well explained (for example: paying with your personal information or your clicks, as opposed to paying cash).
  • If it is too good to be true, it is too good to be true. Avoid deals that are too good to be true,  in this case free (or cheap) email.
  • Giving the US government access may not benefit my business.  The Patriot Act and other regulations give extensive access to infrastructural components, including cloud servers, even if they are not located in the US.  Oh, and this goes for a number of other governments as well, I am using the US as an example since most major cloud suppliers are governed by US law.
  • What is the bribe level for gaining access to my data? A month’s paycheck will get you access in many countries, and in low cost countries the bribe level may be too low for you to expose your data to the country.  Some West-European banks outsourcing operations to Ukraine ran into this thinking in the security audit.
  • Unclear value chain may turn out to be expensive for me in the long run.  My business intends to be here for the long run.
  • What happens if they loose my data?  What do I know about their backups?

Most if this boils down to how to trust something ephemeral, like a cloud.  Personally, I like clouds.  But I have taken the time to read and study up on them, and not every manager out there has the time or the same policy inclination I do (weirdly, some people do not read cloud audit guidelines late at night).

It turns out, that yet again, people are not stupid.  Even managers are not stupid.



So, it happened to me, like most of my friends with children and iTunes accounts.  And now I want a logout button or a logout app for my iPad. The kid was in a child friendly game, and

  1. a request to buy something popped up, and
  2. he happily clicked YES.

Since the device (in my case an iPad, but this is even more common on iPhones) was still within the time buffer for login, there was automatic approval of the purchase.

On the bright side, I got a happy child with a killer bird for AngryBirds.  On the down side I got an email, drowning in similar emails, about a purchase that was done with my iPad, and I had to pay money.  If he had been in the smurf town, like so many other Norwegian kids, this could have cost me 549 NOK (around 70 euros), as the unhappy dad whose daughter spent 4500 NOK in a free game discovered.

Why is there no logout button in the AppStore? Why is there no logout in iTunes? Why have they chosen to do the cannot-by-stuff-from-within-apps configuration in a submenu where you must enable restrictions explicitly for each device instead of offering me the ability to simply log out and then hand over the device to the kids?  Enabling a long long menu of stuff I do not really understand what is seems more complex to me than simply allowing logout.  Then I am probably spoiled by the elegant and simple logout support in Feide.

Logout is crucial on shared devices, to ensure that the next user does not gain unreasonable privileges.  Family iPads fall in the category of shared devices.  Give us logout in AppStore!

UPDATE: …and a bit embarrassed (but mostly happy)  I have to admit that iTunes has a logout button, available from the iTunes Store menu.  Took me a while to find it, and it does not help in AppStore, but it is great to have in iTunes.