Just How Secure Is Your Cloud Storage?

If you think about it, the files we store on the cloud are probably in the most secure places we can get them into. But the security these cloud services can provide our data all depends on how good our passwords are. Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Dropbox are all reliable cloud services for storing consumer data. But like all others, they depend on strong passwords.

There are many data management companies in the UK or in the city where you live, but their physical hard drives are not located in any area that could easily be corrupted or hacked. Their massive hard drives are located in remote places that are physically and virtually un-hackable. These places are guarded like the queen of England.

What Makes the Data Safe?

Redundancy, passwords, and encryption protect your stored data from all kinds of hacks and privacy issues. Each cloud service has at least three copies of your data stored in different locations. For a file to disappear, it has to disappear from these three sources. If Hard Drive 1 fails, you still have the second and third hard drives. Although it is possible to corrupt all three hard drives (nothing is ever safe from skilled hackers), this can only happen in a relatively small fraction of data that are stored on the cloud.

The strength of your passwords will protect the data you send to your cloud account. Strong, reliable passwords are composed of characters (in lower case and upper case), symbols, and numbers. But while you can make it impossible to access your data using a strong password you have created, the same thing cannot be said with your local machine (smartphones, tablets, and laptops) from which the data is coming from. If you leave your machine unlocked in an unsafe environment, people who access it can also access your cloud data.

Finally, a commercial cloud service encrypts each piece of data. It has an encryption key that will respond only if the owner of that data enters the right password to open the files. Without the encryption key, the data will look gibberish.

Most services keep the key themselves. Their systems will use the key to encrypt, process, and index the data. But there are cloud services such as Mega and SpiderOak that allow the clients to encrypt their data. What users do is to take an extra precautionary measure. Instead of uploading the data directly to the cloud service, they upload it through service-specific applications that have encryption functions.

The system isn’t perfect yet; users can’t use the search functions with this setup. But this extra step is making data more secure, which means that cloud services are likely to find a way to incorporate it into their process.

How Can You Protect Your Data?

Make sure that you have read the terms and conditions of the cloud service you are signing up to. This will ensure that you understand the process the cloud service does to ensure the protection of your data. When it comes to your passwords, never share it with anyone. Limit the number of people with access to your files.

The number one rule that most people forget when using cloud services is never to upload any file that you are not comfortable having accessed by someone else—even if unintentional. Sensitive materials such as court documents, naked pictures and videos, medical records, and financial information should be stored only in your computer, and never in a cloud storage service.