Peter Cochrane's Blog: Apple and Google brewing up a cloud storm for hackers

The end of Microsoft's dominance and the growth of the cloud mean dark skies ahead for crooks...

Apple iCloud, Steve Jobs

Combine the impact of Apple and Google in the cloud with the spread of mobile devices and suddenly the world has changed for the worse for crooksPhoto: Donald Bell/CNET

Written on BA 879 flying St Petersburg to London and dispatched to via a company wi-fi hub in London a day later.

Multiple cloud types augmented by a growing array of devices, platforms and apps are going to make life harder for those on the dark side.

While the PC has transformed society and industry in less than 25 years, the spread of one dominant platform, operating system and application suite, combined with singular points of net access and static server farms, has left us exposed to criminals.

The rapid rise of cybercrime is partly an inadvertent result of this market domination. It has allowed hackers and criminals to gain entry and do their work with relative impunity.

But things are about to change with the large-scale entry of Google and Apple in the cloud and myriad mobile devices. Not only will we have many more devices with more operating systems and applications, there will be at least two distinctly different cloud modes.

Google sees the cloud as the great computer in the sky - and the centre of your life with compute power apps and information remotely located on servers. Your terminal devices will be much reduced in power and capability, but available at a much lower price and with endless battery life. This is a vision that bravely assumes broadband, lots of broadband, is available everywhere.

Apple, on the other hand, sees your device as the centre of your life with lots of compute power and capability. Here, the cloud is an orchestrator of connectivity information and resources - the gateway of your life. An online partner and support for your computing and communication needs. This is a vision that pragmatically assumes that broadband provision will limp into the future and will not be available everywhere.

Who is going to be right? My travel experiences say Apple in the first instance but Google ultimately. But don't ask me to put a date on ultimately.

Today, we mostly have all our IT eggs in one static and very dumb internet basket, which exposes networks, devices and people to security, reliability and resilience risks. Tomorrow, our eggs will all be different by device, application set and cloud type.

They will be spread over many widely different and dynamic baskets, with segmentation and duplication improving our chances of trouble-free survival, and a far faster recovery from all forms of natural and unnatural failure.

But we need to start asking a new set of questions:

  • How will the dark side respond?
  • How will they get on the inside?
  • How will they attack?

Even more importantly, how can we make it even more difficult for them? And can we marshal our distributed computing and people power to detect, defend and repel them. I reckon we can. But it has to be a conscious move on our part, and I suspect Apple and Google will be in the vanguard of this change.

Best of all, they will be supported by a geek - and not-so-geek - army more than the equal of the dark side.