The Cloud’s Massive Reach Extends to Police Forces and Beyond

Are you one of the estimated 300 million people who use iCloud?

Varieties of the cloud are offered by Apple, Microsoft and Google, but they all essentially let owners of smartphones, tablets and computers store, share, update and synchronize information from their devices to the cloud anytime it’s connected to wifi.

It’s a convenient way to store and access information from almost anywhere, making it useful for the average smartphone user and law enforcement agencies.

Police are using common cloud settings, like location settings, information sharing and automatic updates to help investigate and fight crimes.

For example, if you use iCloud, the most recent set of photos on your iPhone will automatically be labeled with the date, time and city in which they were taken. This same information will also be available on your iPad, personal computer or any other connected devices.

This information proved imperative for Houston police who used iCloud to aide in their investigation of a local theft crime.

Randy Schaefer reported in March that his truck was broken into while parked outside his home in River Oaks, and his iPad, along with $5,000 cash, were both stolen.

As is typical with many theft cases, Schaefer didn’t expect to get his iPad or money back, until photos and a video of two strange men appeared in his iCloud account.

The photos and a video, which went viral online, were of two men posing with hundred dollar bills, bragging about their crime saying, “this my good people is what we get from a good night’s hustle.”

Police were able to track down the men using the digital footprint they left behind while passing a local Starbucks, where Schaefer’s iPad connected to the wifi, leading police to their location.

Recently, Buzzfeed featured a cloud story about Matt Stopera, whose cell phone was stolen from a bar in New York and sold at a second-hand cell phone shop in China.

A year later, Stopera began receiving unfamiliar photos. These photos belonged to the new owner in China, and Stopera was getting these daily photo updates because his old phone was still connected to his current cloud account.

With its seemingly endless reach, the cloud continues to grow with more people, including police, accessing accounts and updating information from virtually any location.

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