Jennifer Lawrence’s pictures and implications for Cloud procurement solutions

You may think that putting “Jennifer Lawrence pictures” in an article heading is just a cheap way of getting some hits on our website. You may think that, I couldn’t possibly comment.

But no, we really do want to make a serious point. Her photos, and those of many other celebrities, have been hacked and put on display on a website. They appear to have been taken by the celebs on their Smartphones, and the hacking that has gone on may well be from whatever “cloud” storage platform that was being used, rather than directly from the phone itself. The Apple iCloud is certainly being mentioned as the source in other publications, although there is no clear evidence as yet.

Of course, increasingly we are using the Cloud as the mechanism for much of the technology we use in our daily lives and in procurement tasks every day. Running eSourcing or auctions? Online catalogues and purchase to pay applications? Spend analytics? The biggest tech trend in recent years has been to move everything into the Cloud.

So what if these very clever hackers decided to try and access your entire AP data via the spend analytics platform? Your competitors might rather like to see just how much you are paying to your suppliers, unit pricing for components, the day rate you’re paying for a top consultant, how much the CEO spent on dinner at the Fat Duck the other week ... all sorts of interesting stuff. Or how low various suppliers bid during your last e-auction perhaps.

Not as exciting as nude photos of gorgeous young stars perhaps, but information that might have a certain value on the market, and would certainly not be something you wanted exposed.

At a personal level, I pretty much assume any text or email I send could get accessed. If I worked for a large firm I would be very cautious about what I put in writing in any format these days. And for individuals, it is worth thinking about whether you really need data, photographs or whatever stored in the Cloud. Is it really necessary? I’m a relatively new and very enthusiastic Dropbox convert – but I don’t think I will ever store my bank details there. Or photos I wouldn’t be happy the world seeing.

A key issue for business and personal life is passwords. The suggestion is that these photos may have been obtained because passwords were stolen from another site and these celebrities were using the same ones for their Cloud storage accounts. Clearly, if you use the same password on many sites, the chances of it being stolen are higher – and that’s true for business applications too. PASSWORD is not a good password.

Finally, where we are talking about business data, then obviously checking the security processes of the provider is key. There are increasing issues too around where data is stored now - European firms being less keen now on storage in the US given that the Patriot Act gives the US government pretty much carte blanche to take a look at anything and everything.

But you will be glad to know that there are no nude pics of your Spend Matters Managing Editor in existence anywhere in the universe. I can guarantee that, but I somehow don’t think they would create quite the same interest as those of Ms. Lawrence (a very fine actress, I should say).

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