During nearly a four-hour period on Sunday, certain accounts in Dropbox, a cloud computing service, were accessible to other users. According to a Monday blog entry by Dropbox founder Arash Ferdowsi, “… we made a code at 1:54pm Pacific time that introduced a bug affecting our authentication mechanism. We discovered this at 5:41pm and a fix was live at 5:46pm. A very small number of users (much less than 1 percent) logged in during that period, some of whom could have logged into an account without the correct password.”
Dropbox is a business that allows users to store all kinds of files on remote servers (also known as a cloud) that can be accessed from anywhere. Apple is set to release its own version of a cloud service with iCloud. The actual release date is not known, but it is expected to go live in the fall.
The Dropbox authentication issue comes on the heels of analysts predicting huge numbers for Apple’s iCloud. RBC Capital Markets released a report which projected Apple may sign as many as 150 million users to iCloud. In the report, 76% of 1,500 iPhone users polled from June 7 to 14 said they plan on using the service. Analysts may be too quick to tout predictions of a big following for Apple’s iCloud.
But after this glitch, will users be more wary of cloud services and their security? Ferdowsi added in the Dropbox blog post, “This never should have happened. We are scrutinizing our controls and we will be implementing additional safeguards to prevent this from happening again.”
This may be enough for some, but others are likely to be scarred by the Dropbox mishap, reverting back to their grounded ways – emailing documents to themselves and keeping the flash drive handy. Still others may consider this issue a reason to switch cloud services and could go running to the security of Apple’s arms with iCloud. The effects of the Dropbox scenario, and the potential popularity, or not, of the rapidly emerging cloud services remains to be seen. Let’s hope there’s a silver lining.