History url prefix icon Information Security History: A Virtual Overview

Users and Technologies in the Mobile and Cloud Era

In the 2000s, computing became increasingly pervasive, personal, and "cloudy". For individuals and corporations alike, data storage and processing is moving increasingly away from machines and media under the data owner's immediate control and towards Web-based cloud services. This direction offers economies of scale, and simplifies remote and mobile access, but also introduces new risks.

Usage and Trends

Computer-based social interaction

Many people began to use computer-based methods as their primary means for social interaction, particularly from mobile devices. Rather than logging in and out of discrete sessions and hanging up afterwards, they maintained ongoing interactions through social media and responded to incoming notifications as they arrived.

Blurring of personal vs. work boundaries

As individuals moved more of their identities and activities online, and did more of their work outside offices or office hours, boundaries between personal and work lives became less clear. Increasingly, personal and business data coexisted on the same computers and devices, as users were unwilling to use and carry distinct devices for different purposes.

Loss of IT control

Employees brought their own devices (a trend known by its acronym, BYOD) and demanded to connect them to corporate networks rather than using systems provided and controlled by IT departments. Corporate interest grew in technologies designed to separate different types of data and applications within user-owned devices, but users were often reluctant to grant employers control over them.

Key Technologies

Smartphones and tablets

Powerful mobile computing devices provide more processing power than the room-size machines of earlier eras were able to offer. They can store large amounts of data, can access Internet-based resources, and can host local applications.

Affordable cellular networks

Cellular network data costs dropped substantially, making their use practical for the general public. Cost-effective cellular networks enable "always-on" connectivity even when outside WiFi hotspot range, and allow new types of location-based services.

Mobile-based applications

Smartphones and tablets store data and run local apps, making it important to consider them not only as means to access remote resources but also as computers in themselves.

Social websites

Rather than just displaying content to visitors, or supporting particular interactions like ordering a product, many newer websites provide platforms for their users to provide their own content and interact with one another.
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BlackBerry Storm by StrebKR, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License    by   StrebKR