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Cloud storage breaches may get worse: Experts

Be careful of what you snap, especially if your pictures and videos are stored in the cloud.

Local security experts gave this warning yesterday after Hollywood celebrities' nude pictures were stolen from cloud servers and uploaded on a file-sharing website.

An anonymous hacker claimed to have accessed female celebrities' private pictures via Apple's online storage system iCloud. The company has not confirmed this.

Cloud storage, like any other security system, has flaws, especially when hacking is a global phenomenon that spares no organisation, said Mr David Ng, 34.

The product marketing manager for cloud and data centre security at Trend Micro said: "In this scenario where nude photos of celebrities are being leaked, the hackers may be compromising the storage service and not the user itself.

"The hackers did not specifically target one user, but the global servers that run the storage system."

The cloud offers IT services that are accessible via a network, and can sync and store data from multimedia devices. The data, including pictures, videos, documents and messages, is password-protected.

Even if you were to delete data from devices such as smartphones, tablets or cloud servers, it may not mean that you are 100 per cent safe, Mr Ng said.

"You may not know if the hackers have already stolen your data from the cloud servers. If so, you can only pray that the hackers don't find it interesting enough to expose it."

He said the risk of cloud storage systems being compromised will only become worse.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

So what can you do to protect yourself from breaches?

Mr Ng recommends anti-virus solutions to detect malicious software and applications that hackers may use to gain access to your computers.

Mr Terrence Tang, Trend Micro's senior director of consumer business, Asia-Pacific, also recommends that passwords be changed regularly.

"Before you download an application, check if the links are suspicious by reading the reviews and verifying it with other users," he said.

Ultimately, Mr Ng said, prevention is better than cure.

"The best practice is to not take compromising pictures that will leave you vulnerable. Always assume that your photos could get leaked," he said.

"In this scenario where nude photos of celebrities are being leaked, the hackers may be compro-
mising the storage service and not the user itself."

- Mr David Ng, product marketing manager for cloud and data centre security at Trend Micro