Cloud Computing, or web-based applications are not a “Clouds” per se, but are applications that are housed in a computer that is accessed remotely via the Internet. Data centers around the world house computers that are designed to allow users from around the world to connect to these computers that run various applications while the results are displayed on your local computer.
Consider a large-scale online service such as eBay. Millions of users may simultaneously be looking at items, bidding on items, or paying for items. This activity is NOT happening on your local computer, but on an array of computers housed in various data centers, processing your request, and sending back results to be viewed on your local screen.
This process forms the genesis of cybercrimes. An analogy would be putting many of your personal valuables in your car, and traveling to a foreign destination using the Interstate. You may not know the exact directions to your destination, so you rely on traffic signs along the way. The problem is these traffic signs are nothing more than electronic billboards, and someone can temporarily take over the billboards and give you false directions to lead you to a very bad location. Waiting for you at the end of the road are criminals that can hold you hostage and steal your valuables.
Although a simplistic analogy, consider the Internet a public transportation system, and the information presented along the way, if hi-jacked (hacked), can steal valuable information since you are truly traversing a public road.
The degree to which hackers will go to obtain or hack information is phenomenal. Although the possibilities are endless, two of the most creative schemes are 'phishing’ and 'Trojan horses'. Phishing typically fools users into thinking they are at a legitimate website that asks for proprietary financial information. These sites are carefully constructed and may have every appearance of looking exactly like an identical trusted site. Many times hackers will buy domain names with a slightly misspelled address name to capture unsuspecting, but “too quickly” typed URLS.
Trojan horses are typically received via email and have attachments that request to be opened. These attachments come under the guise of something important that must be opened to receive some important information or benefit. Another analogy would be traveling down the Interstate and the electronic sign changes to say “Free Gas” one mile ahead. You can’t resist, but once you exit, there is not a happy ending.
In summary, if you are going to travel the public highways, better check your destination before you start and have a good guide to rely on to make sure your valuables are kept safe!