As though I haven’t rattled on enough already, here are some notes born of further thoughts, reading and discussion on the last post, and a few weeks of putting the ideas therein into practice.
This is something I should have mentioned before, but the post was already long enough. If you’re not careful about passwords, all else is for nought. Use a variety of passwords, and make it easy on yourself by reading and remembering the wisdom in this comic. If you are keen to read more, this article by David Gulbransen speaks practically and thoughtfully about passwords as well as the broader topics of my last post.
Using Dropbox and Truecrypt
As mentioned in the comments, prudence suggests that having your work backed up in two or more places may not be enough if all copies are effectively controlled by Dropbox or another sync service – if they bork it up, they will also sync the borkery onto every copy. Depends how cautious you think you need to be, I suppose. For my part, I am being cautious enough to keep an extra copy on my computer, outside of Dropbox’s sphere of influence.
In that respect, having all of my stuff in a Truecrypt container is actually useful – there’s just one file to copy over instead of a whole folder system. I am still thinking about trying other options, especially simple ones like SpiderOak, but this one works well enough for the time being.
One area where it falls down is accessing stuff on an iPad or iPhone, at least until a TrueCrypt app comes out. At the moment I only have an iPhone, which is a dinky way to read documents anyway (unless you’re desperate), so it’s not a big deal. But it does make integrated solutions like the SpiderOak app look more and more promising.
The Doomsday button
While I’m on that note – with a business use to justify it to my exceptionally frugal self, I finally bought an iPhone. Being one of the last people on earth to get one, I won’t regale you with my pleasant journey of discovery, the whole new life that it breathes into Twitter (especially in those pockets of empty time spent on public transport), and just how generally the thing is actually far more useful than I first imagined (Victorian town planning practitioners take note, even the Department of Planning and Community Development have a nifty little app). I’ll just mention this one thought:
One of my reasons for regarding the Doomsday button as only a secondary data security measure is that your ability to nuke the precious data is dependent on the rogue who stole your device hooking into the Internet. But that’s probably not such a big problem if your device keeps itself constantly hooked up to a mobile data connection – assuming you use a passcode on the lock screen, someone would actually have to pull out the SIM before you hit the Doomsday button and then find a way to grab the data before they go back online, which is exceedingly unlikely.
There’s still an ‘if’ there, but it’s a much smaller one. On balance I’d still personally be inclined to regard the Doomsday button as a supplementary security measure, but with a mobile data connection it’s actually a fairly robust one.
Regulating the cloud
Despite the risk every future-predictor faces of being shown up like Harry Camping, I’m going to hazard this prediction: if it hasn’t already then your local professional ethics body will, some time between now and the year 2240 (which coincidentally happens to be the deadline fixed by mainstream Orthodox Judaism for the second coming of Christ), put some ethical regulations in place for your use of cloud computing. I have seen the signs on the horizon.
Which is a fine thing, as long as the regulations are well-considered and informed. Ethical regulations are a fine thing, because they are what distinguishes the pure businessperson from the noble professional, and I have a wellspring of nostalgia for the idea of being part of a profession. If I were a doctor I would probably get the Hippocratic Oath embroidered or printed against an inspirational landscape photograph, and framed on my wall, next to my medical certificate and above my array of pharmaceutical-branded pens and coffee mugs. As it is, I have a horsehair wig in a box, which I suppose performs a similar function seeing as I don’t yet have a bald spot to hide.
If you feel inclined to assist your local law institute / Bar council / ethics committee when the time comes, it’s worth keeping abreast of developments elsewhere so as to be well informed and equipped with models of best practice, while also learning from others’ errors of excess worry (here, here and here), or indeed, lack of due worry.
If I’m wrong in my prediction, I can always reinvent history by editing this post.