In Yahoo we trust?

Author: James Kinsella
23 September 2016 14:04:58

How the cloud giants make you vulnerable


The personal details of the equivalent of the entire European Union were hacked, Yahoo reported.  The 500 million Yahoo users were not all Europeans, of course. But the numbers of accounts violated – almost 7% of the human population – is staggering. And the attack affects many millions of us. Picture courtesy of PYMNTS, on 'Yahoo’s Massive Breach Reportedly Affects 500M Users – Largest Data Breach In History', accessible at ''

Disturbingly, these kinds of violations are very common.

More shockingly, in Europe, we have come to accept that the centralization of our information in a US cloud is natural or unavoidable.

Hacks of personal data happen all the time. No website, no cloud service, is immune. But with the rise of massive, central databases like those that run Yahoo, more personal data of individuals worldwide is kept in a single location than ever before – that is, on US-based servers.

The fixation of privacy and security experts used to be the US Government. Now, the real threat, many believe, is the commercial services that collect data on all of us, whether we know it or not. Google, Amazon, and, yes, even Yahoo, which you may have thought went out with the dinosaurs. All of them collect your personal data with every click of your mouse or tap of your mobile.

And when the services get hacked, so do you.

Yahoo claims about 15% of the world’s population uses a Yahoo service at least once a month. But the breaches have a far greater impact than just the world of Yahoo. Users often repeat the same passwords, security information and details from site to site. So a breach of your Yahoo account might lead a hacker to crack your online banking details.

Or your medical records.

Europeans often shrug their collective shoulders at this fact of our basic vulnerability, as if there is nothing we can do about it. The US cloud giants rule the world – or, at least, the Western world. When our data is violated, well, we just have to change our passwords.

But there something that can be done about it – keep your data closer to home.

No cloud is entirely safe from hacking. But choosing to keep your data closer to home means it is less susceptible to targeting. And breaches can be detected and acted on much more quickly.

Yahoo only discovered the recent attack this summer, TWO YEARS after the hackers breached its accounts. It only notified customers this week. That’s long even by a corporate behemoth’s standards.

There is a new way to think about the convenience of a cloud – localize it. That’s what some of us are dedicated to doing. And the Yahoo violations are more evidence that the world cannot trust US cloud giants with their personal data.



James Kinsella is the founder of Zettabox, a European-based cloud-sharing platform, launched to address data protection and sovereignty issues for enterprises faced with the responsibility to comply with new EU regulations. A long-time tech entrepreneur, James is a proud citizen of both the US and Great Britain. Reach him on Twitter @jimkzettabox or at