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Cisco's cloud faux pas

Forget the cloud -- can we trust cloud vendors?

Does Cisco's cloud faux pas this week reveal the dangers of cloud computing, and how little control users might have over it? As a review, Cisco raised the ire of users of its Linksys routers this week when an automatic firmware update took them to a cloud-based management and administration tool they did not ask for or want.

They didn't even request the firmware update.

What's worse, the cloud-based tool stated in its privacy policy that Internet histories and other usage information could be tracked in order to better handle service and support inquiries should they arise.

Users blasted Cisco for forcing the unwanted cloud admin tool on them and for the privacy tracking policy. Cisco quickly backed off, labeling the whole misguided exercise a mistake. It said the automatic firmware update was only intended for those that requested to opt in for it, and that it should have been clearer on how to opt out.

But is it an indication of where we're all going when we go into the cloud? Will we have all control and privacy stripped away at the whim of vendors looking to gain some financial leverage from that lack of control and privacy?

At the very least, will we always have to be on the lookout for vendor actions, however blatant or subtle, intended or unintended, that potentially violate our privacy, security and trust?

No wonder Cisco, Alcatel-Lucent and others have found such reluctance among end-users to embrace the cloud. Cisco itself scared the daylights out of us on cloud security in order to get us to buy its cloud security solutions.

Availability and reliability of cloud services is already taking a hit, what with the power outage and related entanglements affecting Amazon Web Services this week. And this is at least Amazon's second cloud glitch.

But while we stress about cloud availability and reliability, here's another unfortunate cloud reality from this week - Fear The Vendor.

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