Living in a digital age, where we’re nearly always connected to the Internet, has advantages. Cloud-based storage is just one digital revolution that makes accessing our information much easier – any time, any place and on any device. However, with the number and nature of cyber threats growing and changing all the time, it is easy to see why some find it hard to trust or feel safe using this new technology.
So, should you trust the Cloud?
WHAT IS THE CLOUD?
- Cloud-based storage is, in basic terms, a network of servers on the Internet that each has different functions and provide different services – wherever and whenever you need them. Large companies such as Google and Amazon already provide most of their services through Cloud technology.
- More and more people are using Cloud-based services for online backup and storage solutions – sometimes unknowingly. For instance, when you upload photos to social network sites, like Facebook or Instagram, you instantly upload them to the Cloud.
- Popular Cloud-based storage examples include:
- WHAT CLOUD VENDORS DON’T TELL YOU
- As with any new technology, the Cloud has its advantages, but there are also potential security threats and times when the service may otherwise let you down.
- Like other online accounts, Cloud services can be hacked by cybercriminals.
- Cloud hacking certainly registered on the radars of users and providers when nude celebrity photos were leaked from a Cloud service in 2014. What eventually came out of the scandal was that many celebrities probably ignored strong password policies and chose very basic passwords, making hacking their accounts much easier. Cloud service providers have also worked hard to secure vulnerabilities in their systems. Hopefully, we all learned something from this breach.
- If hackers can access your data, you may consider yourself lucky if all they want to do is pass some photos around. But should they choose to infect your files with malware, steal financial information, delete everything or lock you out of your account, you may have bigger things to worry about.
- When you don’t know where your data is stored, who has access to it or how it is secured, any or all of the above scenarios are possible. The security world and Cloud providers alike are still figuring out how best to keep our Cloud accounts secure, which is why we need to take care of what we upload for now.
- Sometimes the bad guys don’t want to target us directly; instead, they target online service providers.
- In June 2014, Cloud-based storage provider Evernote was the victim of a DDoS attack, seeing the site taken offline for about five hours. If, for example, all your notes for an important presentation were stored inside Evernote, that attack could have made for a very bad day at the office.
- The convenience of cloud storage shouldn’t be underestimated, but be wary of ever taking it for granted.
- If you’re going to store data in the Cloud, you’re storing it online. Sometimes you can access files in offline mode, but very often, you will be without access to your files if you’re without an Internet connection. Whether there is a problem with your Internet connection or the Cloud service, the result is the same – you cannot get to your files.
- On the one hand, Cloud storage can be a lifesaver when a gadget malfunctions; on the other, the Cloud is another piece of technology and can fall victim to technical problems and human error.
- Since the dawn of the computer age, we have chanted the mantra: ‘save, back up, save, back up’. And yet, we all fail to heed the advice at one time or another. Usually, it’s just before our computer goes bang, and we lose a whole heap of work along with precious photos.
- On the one hand, Cloud storage can be a lifesaver when a gadget spontaneously combusts; on the other, the Cloud is another piece of technology and can fall victim to technical problems and human error.
- It may not be as easy for your Cloud data to be erased as it can be to delete a file from your hard drive, but it’s always worth thinking, ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’ and then creating another backup.
SHOULD YOU TRUST THE CLOUD?
- The answer has to be ‘no’. Not because Cloud services cannot be trusted, but because we must take responsibility for our data. That’s not to say you shouldn’t use the Cloud, but use good judgment when you do.
- Many security issues are for Cloud service providers to solve. Still, if you choose to store personal and precious information and pictures on a hard drive that doesn’t belong to you, you must take all the precautions you can to secure your data before entrusting it to that third party.
TOP TIPS TO SECURE YOUR CLOUD DATA
- Do your research – Protect your data by using a reputable company that suits your needs.
- Use a strong password – Include a mixture of letters and numbers and make sure it is unique to your Cloud account. Use a password manager to help generate and store unique passwords.
- Use two-factor authentication (2FA) – If it’s available as an option, always enable 2FA as it serves as an extra level of security.
- Consider what you should store – Avoid storing very sensitive or personal information in the Cloud.
- Use a complete security solution to protect your devices – Internet security software, such as Kaspersky Total Security – Multi-Device is essential because each gadget you use is a gateway to your Cloud storage.
- Check your settings – do you want photos from your phone automatically uploaded to the Cloud? If not, turn off the option.
- Always back up – Make sure you back up your Cloud data like an external hard drive for your PC.