10 Tips and Tricks to Secure Your Cloud Data
With the recent hacking debacles surrounding the use of cloud storage, there has been a lot of questions regarding whether storing data in the cloud is secure. The answer to this question is still a big YES, but only if you know how to secure your cloud data properly.
In this article, we are going to review some of the best tips you can use to help secure your cloud data even further.
Be Serious About Your Password
One of the very first things you need to do if you want to keep your cloud storage account as secure as it can be is choosing a strong password. Don’t just use a common phrase or your birthday, because these types of password are prone to hacking.
Hackers can use something called social engineering to figure out your password. They will take personal information – easily available on social media pages and other websites – and work out the most probable set of passwords. They will then try those passwords using a brute-force script.
Don’t Share Your Password
Aside from having a strong password, it is also necessary to prevent giving it away to others under any circumstance. Today’s best cloud storage services allow you to share files without having to give away your login information.
Avoid Storing Sensitive Data
Sometimes, the best way to protect sensitive data is by not storing them in the cloud at all. You can still use the cloud storage service for storing your music, video, pictures, documents and a wide range of other files, but you should never store files that contain your sensitive, personal information.
In worst case scenario where your cloud storage account does get hacked, you don’t have to worry about sensitive information such as your credit card details or passwords falling into the wrong hands.
Encryption to the Rescue!
Cloud storage services now support encryption. The files you store in the cloud are encrypted using up to 1024-bit encryption algorithm. Some companies even use military-grade encryption to better protect their users’ data. Make sure you activate the encryption feature on your cloud storage account for better protection.
Encrypt Before You Upload
You should also consider encrypting the files and folders you store in the cloud before you upload them. Most operating systems now have built-in encryption capabilities. The third-party software available on the market are also very affordable and easy to use. By encrypting the files before uploads, only you can access them in the future.
Encrypting your files before uploading them to the cloud do come with a number of disadvantages:
- You need to encrypt and decrypt files regularly, and the process can be time consuming once you start dealing with large – or plenty of – files.
- You will not be able to share the files you store in the cloud since recipients will not be able to decrypt them. A workaround for this issue is to encrypt files that contain important information only.
- You may also lose the ability to open and edit files on the fly. Cloud storage services now have built-in file editors (mostly for documents, music, pictures and video) but they will not be able to open pre-upload encrypted files.
Understand the Cloud Storage Service
Upon signing up for a cloud storage account, you are presented with a Terms and Conditions. Be sure to take your time and read the Terms and Conditions carefully. You will be able to learn more about how the cloud storage company handles your files.
Find out more about the security measures the company put in place to protect your files. Check if files are backed up to remote locations and whether proper data centre security procedures are in place.
Check Reviews and Security Audits
You can even find reviews and security audits for the cloud storage service. By reviewing these information, you will be able to find out more about the security aspects of the company’s services, including if server admins can access your files without your authorization. VeriSign and other independent auditors issue security ratings periodically. The ratings will help you grade your cloud storage service provider.
Be Careful with Web and Remote Access
One of the advantages you get when storing files in the cloud is the ability to access them anywhere and at any time. Even when you don’t have your laptop or smartphone with you, you can simply log on using any standard web browser and a good internet connection.
This particular benefit poses another security risk: public computers and open internet connections. Even when you use a friend’s laptop, make sure an up-to-date antivirus is running and that you are using the browser in Incognito mode. This will prevent worms and Trojans from stealing your password. It will also prevent you from accidentally leaving your cloud storage account details on someone else’s computer.
Use Mobile Apps and USB Cables
It is much better to access the files using your smartphone; you would normally have your smartphone with you at all times, and cloud storage services now have native mobile apps to help users download and upload files from their phones. The mobile interface is just as easy to use as the desktop version and you should have no trouble at all getting your files from the cloud. Once the files are downloaded, you can plug in the smartphone and copy the files manually.
Antivirus and Anti-Spyware
Even when you are using your own computer, a worm or a Trojan can still steal your passwords. Hackers that are sniffing public and unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots will be able to also steal your passwords, including the password to your cloud storage account.
To prevent these bad things from happening, make sure you use a good antivirus. Keep the antivirus software up to date and let it scan your computer to find malicious software. Wi-Fi security software and suites are also available at affordable prices.
When it comes to storing and protecting your data in the cloud, there is no such thing as being too careful. Be sure to apply the tips we just discussed in this article to help better secure your cloud storage account. There are still more great tricks you can use to prevent unauthorized access to your cloud storage account, but we are going to save them for another article. Stay tuned for more updates right here on this site.