MobileInfocenter

Is Your Palm Profile Data Safe? Palm: Yeah, Probably

Palm Cloud ServiceSometimes you just go "huh". In the wake of the epic fail that was the Microsoft/Danger Sidekick PIM disaster, Palm Infocenter thought it would be interesting to query Palm on their own backup/security policies for the webOS Palm Profile data, which is similarly stored up in the clouds. A little disconcerting, all we got was a canned response:

We don't currently have a response other than what's contained within our privacy policy.

And that policy says? In a nutshell: "We guarantee nothing." How... comforting. The relevant quote is after the break.

4. Access and Accuracy

...When we delete account information, back-up copies may exist in storage for some period of time after we process the deactivation request.

5. Security

We use a variety of industry-standard security technologies, as well as administrative, managerial, and physical safeguards, to help protect sensitive personal information from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure. No data transmissions through the Internet or mobile devices, or even the physical transfer of information, can be guaranteed to be completely secure. We cannot fully eliminate all security risks associated with personal information and technical mistakes are possible. Therefore, we do not ensure or warrant the security of any data or information you transmit to us and you do so at your own risk.

As you might note, while that delves into security, the policy mentions very little about backups. One would assume that comprehensive backups are made, but considering that we're talking about people's personal information it would be preferable not to have to assume anything.

Palm Profiles

It's also important to realise that Palm Profiles operate in a different manner to the way that Danger managed Sidekick data; with the Palm Profile, the cloud copy of your information is simply kept updated with the data that actually resides on your device. Still, should something happen to the device...

I hate to put the boot in to my favourite gadget maker, but seriously, Palm. Backups. Spell 'em out for us. Because such a wishy-washy answer as "nothing in life is certain..." doesn't cut it.

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Palm's Bind?

Kudzu62 @ 10/14/2009 5:32:21 PM # Q
I haven't committed to a new Pre until I see what Telus does with iPhone and what kind of data plan competition comes of it. However, it seems to me Palm has a problem. If they cannot gaurantee the safety of my data, and in order for my phone to operate I must give them my data (as per previous posts), they will have to make some changes or they are simply stealing either my money or my data. You can't have it both ways, can you?!
From the Great White North
Kudzu62
RE: Palm's Bind?
CFreymarc @ 10/15/2009 1:10:18 AM # Q
And here is one for you, no matter what brew-ha-ha there is about "the cloud" there is a server, somewhere, holding your data. Many legal experts are wondering if the server is in a country with no extradition concerning privacy laws, are you compromised?

Also, try calling someone at Palm and ask for the physical location of your data. Can anyone come up with an answer down to the building address, floor, room and rack?

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Backup

Gekko @ 10/14/2009 5:40:22 PM # Q

well at least out of the box you can sync your data to a PC. and also don't forget you can backup to an SD Card.

NOT.


RE: Backup
twrock @ 10/14/2009 11:41:37 PM # Q
Yes, they push to get everyone to use their cloud for everything, but won't guarantee the safety of the data you must give them. Seems like a fairly one-sided relationship.

Nope, I definitely must have my own backup solution for whatever phone holds my data.

Hey Palm! Where's my PDA with Wifi and phone capabilities?

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just call me a nephophobiac

pmjoe @ 10/15/2009 5:29:39 AM # Q
But unlike all the treatment websites say ...
http://www.phobia-fear-release.com/nephophobia.html

I'm quite certain there is an "actual danger".

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Sidekick ?= cloud

Tere @ 10/15/2009 8:35:21 AM # Q
IMHO, saying the sidekick is cloud computing is a bit of a misnomer. Isn't the data stored on Danger's server(s) as opposed to computers spread net wide? Seems to me the Danger model is the opposite of cloud computing: centralized server computing. Hence the Danger. (heheh, get it... :)
- Tere
RE: Sidekick ?= cloud
SeldomVisitor @ 10/15/2009 8:44:02 AM # Q
RE: Sidekick ?= cloud
Tim Carroll @ 10/15/2009 5:52:57 PM # Q
Tere, you're totally correct WRT the exact terminology. (I think there was actually a blog published recently that criticised Engadget's use of the term as applied to this incident). But IMO, the distinction is slight at best - most people read "cloud" and just think "servers", not caring whether they're distributed or centralized.

"cloud computing" is different, but then i didn't use that anyway. :P


Sometime PIC blogger
Treo 270 --> Treo 650 --> Treo 680 --> Centro
I apologise for any and all emoticons in my posts. You may shoot them on sight.

RE: Sidekick ?= cloud
Tere @ 10/19/2009 12:24:41 PM # Q
Tim: I think the difference between WebOS (for example) and the Sidekick is a little more than slight. It maybe be slight in the minds of consumers, but not in fact. While the events that caused the Sidekick failure were extremely improbable, a similar calamity for WebOS is far less likely and would have be much further reaching than just WebOS users.

You are quite right: Cloud Computing is a whole other thing that is neither the Sidekick or WebOS. In the video SV linked to, Ellison speaks quit well to the PR hype-meisters hijacking of the term, but goes a little overboard. Confusing the consumer, it seems, is good for business. Or at least good for sales! :}
- Tere

RE: Sidekick ?= cloud
Tim Carroll @ 10/19/2009 1:39:03 PM # Q
While the events that caused the Sidekick failure were extremely improbable, a similar calamity for WebOS is far less likely and would have be much further reaching than just WebOS users.

Well, as I noted in the article, Palm Profiles do work differently. But what makes you so sure a similar calamity is far less likely? The problem for me is that we really know nothing about how Palm safeguards the data, beyond a vague "everything'll be okay, sweetie" pat-on-the-head.

For me, the real story is that webOS still offers no built-in method of personal, home-computer desktop backup and Palm are asking the end-user to place a rather large amount of trust in them and their servers - trust that they have not earned, given that webOS and Palm Profiles are still very new.

I love 'em, but I don't think we should give Palm a free pass on this one.

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