Can You Be Too Paranoid?

♬ Every time I turn around
Something’s just not right
Just might be paranoid…♬

Lyrics and Music by Nicholas Jerry Jonas, Joseph Adam Jonas, Paul Kevin Jonas II, Cathy Dennis, John Fields, recorded by the Jonas Brothers.

An article on yesterday’s online New York Times entitled: “Cyberattack on Google Said to Hit Password System” by John Markoff sheds some further light on the cyber attacks on Google that appear to have originated from China.

The exact nature of the intrusion and theft is a closely-guarded secret, but Markoff states:

[A] person with direct knowledge of the investigation now says that the losses included one of Google’s crown jewels, a password system that controls access by millions of users worldwide to almost all of the company’s Web services, including e-mail and business applications.


[T]he theft leaves open the possibility, however faint, that the intruders may find weaknesses that Google might not even be aware of, independent computer experts said.

It is the implications of this data intrusion that is important to lawyers and those who wish to guard confidentiality:

The new details seem likely to increase the debate about the security and privacy of vast computing systems such as Google’s that now centralize the personal information of millions of individuals and businesses. Because vast amounts of digital information are stored in a cluster of computers, popularly referred to as “cloud” computing, a single breach can lead to disastrous losses.

While Google has been public about the attack, it raises questions about other companies:

Google executives have also said privately that the company had been far more transparent about the intrusions than any of the more than two dozen other companies that were compromised, the vast majority of which have not acknowledged the attacks.

If lawyers and law firms store data ‘on the cloud’ and those cloud providers are attacked, what assurance do you have that you will be even be notified that your data may have been compromised?

Markoff further states:

At one high-profile Silicon Valley company, investigators found evidence of intrusions going back more than two years, according to the person involved in Google’s inquiry.

Lawyers may have to consider whether they can ever be too paranoid about storing confidential information on the cloud.

(hat tip to Courtney Kennaday for passing this article along).

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