Amazon Accounts

Something very big happened in the cloud hosting world today. A privacy researcher by the name of Will Vandervanter was doing his job when he discovered something big: thousands of Amazon cloud accounts are accidentally public.

AWS_LOGO Amazon AccountsHow could such a thing happen? As it turns out, Amazon cloud users have to make sure that the “privacy” option is turned on. Otherwise, accounts can be made public. This is a big deal when it comes to photos, files, and corporate spying! It's an even bigger deal when a major social network was one of the companies that did not have a secure account!

Amazon's Big Cloud Hosting Mistake

Amazon has told press that the company automatically sets all cloud hosting accounts to private as a default status. But, this status can be changed to public quite easily. During a reconfiguration or through manual manipulation, accounts can easily go public. Once public, looking through someone's private files or photographs becomes an easy thing to do.

Out of the 12,000 accounts that Vandevanter scoped out, almost 2,000 of those accounts were accidentally public. That's a big problem. The researcher also noted that one of the accounts belonged to a “medium-sized social media network,” which means that user photographs and files were available to the public eye. This is definitely not the cloud hosting reputation that Amazon was aiming for!

Amazon Accounts: Was It Amazon's Mistake?

As mentioned, Amazon does set all user profiles to private automatically, and cloud settings can only be changed by users. However, Amazon might not have made this clear to all cloud users. As a result, Amazon is now working on cleaning up this major PR mess.

While Amazon is not at fault directly, the company's name is still attached to many angry customers — customers who want someone to pay for leaked company secrets. Does this mean that all cloud hosting is not safe or secure? Absolutely not; but it definitely means that you should always read the fine print.

Making Sure Your Cloud Account Is Safe

If you do have an Amazon S3 account, you should contact the company right away to find out how to change your privacy settings. There's not much you can do if your files have already been leaked, but you can prevent this from happening in the future. If you intend to sign up for another cloud hosting account, the same rules apply.

Most cloud hosts offer private hosting to clients. But, this is something that you will have to verify when you setup your initial account. If settings can be easily changed, make sure you know how to turn those settings on and off. It will also pay to teach anyone who will be working on your cloud account to leave those privacy settings alone.

Alternatives to Amazon Cloud Hosting

There's no doubt that many Amazon cloud users  (earlier review here) will be searching for a new cloud host today. If you are one of those users, there are a few great options available including Memopal (250GB for $99/year) and Moss Cloud FS (pay-as-you-go storage starting at $.15GB).

Amazon might be one of the largest cloud hosting options out there, but sometimes large isn't better. In this case, Amazon isn't directly at fault, though the general cloud-using public might not see it that way. So far, Amazon hasn't announced any offers for those who were impacted by this incident.

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Something very big happened in the cloud hosting world today. A privacy researcher by the name of Will Vandervanter was doing his job when he discovered something big: thousands of Amazon cloud accounts are accidentally public.

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