Nov 112021
 
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Websites offer the mobility we need to work from anywhere, but they carry a risk that our creative work is on someone’s servers and can be compromised. This may expose us to hacking. Our devices, including a laptop (even at home), also face this risk, but it’s arguably less likely that we’ll be hacked than Google or Microsoft. Several niche sites dedicated to world builders also exist, and they are also less likely to be hacked because the information in them isn’t personal enough and there aren’t enough users to warrant the effort. However, they are probably much easier to hack. Creative people often worry about their ideas being stolen, and storing and transmitting them over the internet does expose us to more risk. The reality is that “no one” cares about stealing our ideas unless we’re famous, but if it matters to you, consider it.

We should read terms of service carefully. Most of us are familiar with the idea that Facebook, for example, can sell our data to advertisers. Any website we use should explicitly state that we own our ideas, not them. I once received a job offer that stated that all work I did once hired belonged to the company, including anything I invented after hours, after I quit, and for the rest of my life. I objected and they admitted it was a mistake and changed the language to be more reasonable. It likely wouldn’t have held up in court due to obscene overreach, but why take the chance?

Most sites cost money to operate, which means a potential membership fee for users, whether monthly or annually. This cost may not be necessary; what we’re gaining is optional and can usually be achieved via other means. But even apps installed on a device are moving more to a subscription model, versus the old days of installing something and being able to use it indefinitely without paying again. Providers like Microsoft have seen the wisdom of making us pay all the time.

With websites, backing up our data may seem like a concern we don’t have, as it’s not stored locally on our device. But we should periodically download it, if possible; and if it’s not possible, this is a risk. The provider is probably doing backups, but the likelihood of this depends on how professional they are. A company like Google or Microsoft almost certainly is, partly because they have businesses depending on them. But smaller sites run by a few programmers may not. Such sites might be hosted by a genuine hosting company (that does backups) or it might be on a server in the guy’s basement. Some sites have already achieved a reputation for crashes that destroy data into being irretrievable. Research any such tool to see what other users are saying.

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