What do ordinary internet users do when they want to access their photos, data, documents and e-mails from anywhere? That’s right: they upload it to the cloud. So they shoot their bits and bytes somewhere up in the sky and a mysterious piece of software makes sure that as soon as they have entered their passwords, a digital butterfly net retrieves precisely this data parked up high in the heavens.
How exactly does that work? Well, you hold your smartphone or iPad up in the air, and it sends all the data somewhere or it filters all of your suspended digital matter out of the air via WLAN or cellular network – and bam! Everything is there again….
The cloud here on earth
This cloud technology is practical, isn’t it? And so secure! After all, no one can access your data unless they have your password. Or so you think… as the German poet Waldemar Bonsels (yes, the creator of Maya the Bee) once said, “The clouds are part of the earth, not to the sky.” And even back then, he was right. Our data, information, account statements, love letters and photos of our girlfriend in a skimpy bikini are, of course, flying around invisibly through the troposphere via GPRS, LTE or WLAN. But in fact, they don’t travel especially far because the most dependable means of transmission is still through a cord plugged into a router or some other type of box with antenna. And that’s where things get problematic. That is, the path to the cloud that is here on earth. Or more precisely, the terrestrial data stores to which secret services, police agencies and state-sanctioned economic spies of this world have nearly unfettered access.
The eager staff at the Alcatraz of data
Documents and data sent to the cloud are transmitted over wires and fiber optic cable directly to the USA, where they are kept sturdily on giant, yet otherwise completely conventional servers. These servers are housed in rooms with security similar to the good old days of the prison on Alcatraz island An apt metaphor indeed: while the prisoners (or the data) are hermetically sealed off from the outer world and even relatives (the owners of the data) are granted access only after multiple checks, government personnel can move about there freely. These people can listen to every conversation and take notes, open and copy letters and packages as well as keep a dossier of all inmates to neatly document everything – private, political and business-related. And anything that might be of interest can be forwarded to the relevant authorities. While data stored on Amazon, Dropbox, Google, Microsoft Skydrive et al. might be encrypted, it’s not as if you carry around the key in your back pocket – the guards do. Thus, the secret service agencies of the US and allies gleefully tap into the data right at the source: the cable or at the location where it is stored, namely, on the servers. And let you believe that your pictures, schedules and documents are safeguarded from others.
The USA’s National Security Agency: an international agency of insecurity
You may ask yourself, why would a foreign security agency be so interested in me? If we only knew… we can, however, assume that user profiles are scanned for unusual contacts and certain words that might be relevant for combating terror (and perhaps also for providing its own industry with key information). What’s insane about this practice is that it’s completely legal in countries like the USA – and no big secret is even being made of it. After all, it’s all in the interest of national security….
So what can be done?
The answer is simple. You should send your e-mails via a Swiss provider that also operates its own servers here. You should also store your data in places safeguarded against men in long jackets and dark sunglasses, i.e. the tens of thousands eager snoops working for inquisitive foreign (and domestic) agencies. Specifically, the data should be stored on well-secured servers in our own country, where they are guarded not only by thick walls, but by our laws as too.
You now see that a Swiss hosting provider like Hostpoint has more invaluable benefits than you could imagine.