STEM Usage of Cloud Computing & Storage: Some General Thoughts, 2019

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) research(ers) and educators general make extensive use of the modern trend of ‘The Cloud’.  Hell, I’m not one to criticize this trend, because I use AWS, Dropbox, Google products (Gmail, Google Drive, etc.), WordPress, Apple iCloud, and the list goes on and on.  However, I do try to remember that ‘There is NO CLOUD…. It’s just someone else’s computer or storage’.  In the current climate of companies providing tons of monetarily free services (e.g, gmail, facebook, instagram, snapchat, etc), but doing this at the cost of giving up individuals privacy, personal data, information, or something to this affect:  Its worth remembering the same POTENTIAL for loss of privacy or security can easily exist when storing and transmitting data.

Data management or more generally information management has become a priority in many sectors of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).  For example, most federal funding of STEM in the USA requires a data management plan (e.g., NSF – https://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/dmp.jsp).  While most good cloud storage companies / products are so convenient that is almost impossible NOT to use them and they provide a huge benefit to typically redundantly storing data in several geographically distant locations to avoid the potential for data loss (which is hard for individuals to duplicate), several words of precaution are worth mentioning:

  • ENCRYPT your data!! There are tons of articles about encryption and I am not going to cover it in any detail at all, expect to say this is easier than ever to do and there are tons of free and paid apps and programs to help secure data through encryption.
  • Come up with a non-trivial system for creating secure (random) passwords and a system for being able to retrieve them securely/privately.   Again, tons and tons of videos, articles and webpages devoted to this topic.  I highly recommend research this a bit BEFORE coming up with a system… and make sure it is a system YOU CAN REMEMBER long-term.  (And maybe share this system with a trusted person in confidence)
  • Consider onion/tor instead of the public web for communication associated with information/data.

I will expand on this blog…. hopefully soon!!

Cheers, Jeff

 

 

 

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