At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that we need to back up our data – whatever form it is in – in case of any problems that may cause us to lose it. However this is by no means a new concept. If you can cast your mind back to the dark ages when you had to go and get your photos developed by Boots or Kodak for example, you’d be given the negatives as well as your prints so that you were able to reproduce them in the event of loss or damage. The same principle should apply for any content held online or by 3rd parties.
In the last few days this point has been backed up – if you’ll pardon the pun – by a couple of stories that cropped up on my radar. The first one you’re probably aware of as it was big news involving a big name – Google having a bit of a cock-up and deleting a shed load of Gmail users’ accounts. In fairness, the actual fraction of their users affected was quoted as being “less than 0.08%“, which reportedly equates to around 150,000 accounts. It’s easy to allay your fears by thinking “It won’t happen to me, that’s like a 1 in 150,000 chance”. Yet every week most of us buy lottery tickets in the hope that we are that 1 person in 14,000,000 or whatever the odds are on scooping that jackpot. It doesn’t quite add up if you ask me.
The second story was that of Om Malik – founder of GigaOM Network. He awoke on Friday to find that his Facebook account had been hacked and taken for a ride. Whilst Facebook is the world’s largest network of its kind, it is not the whole internet. However with Facebook Connect, millions of people, like Om, use the social network to log in to various other services across the world-wide web. Once he’d discovered that someone had been using his account for misendeavours, he emailed Facebook support, who after confirming the veracity of his claims, killed his account swiftly. So due to the actions of one, or possibly a group of hackers, Mr Malik was now without his Facebook account and the sprawling network of other sites he logged in to and engaged with from his mobile device.
The more and more of our activities we conduct in a virtual kingdom to which we do not hold the keys, the more and more we have to make sure that we watch our step and take the necessary precautions to avoid being left with nothing when the castles come tumbling down. Every day we take preventative measures to mitigate the possible loss of our possessions or decline in our health – setting the burglar alarm and brushing our teeth for example. Why should protecting online content be any different?