Our devices are now more interconnected than ever. It has become normal to use a desktop computer or laptop in conjunction with a smartphone or tablet to accomplish digital tasks or consume entertainment media. To streamline how files are accessed from multiple devices, cloud storage technology was born. Today, thousands of people use at least one cloud storage and are open to using more. In fact, according to a 2016 survey conducted by RightScale on the state of the cloud, “cloud users leverage 6 clouds on average.”
The report further added that more enterprises have shifted their workloads onto the cloud, taking full advantage of multi-device accessibility. Truly, there are many benefits to saving files to the cloud. The technology isn’t risk-free, however, and it pays to know how best to protect your stored data.
Although RightScale’s survey highlighted that “security is no longer the top cloud challenge” (lack of resources is), this doesn’t mean that you can be totally complacent. After all, those files you stored in the cloud are important and must be kept safe.
Risks Faced by Cloud Users
One of the challenges of storing your files online is that they may be exposed to the scrutiny of unwanted or malicious individuals. Hacking is a threat that must not be underestimated. There are already many stories told by individuals who got their cloud data stolen or corrupted. You don’t want to experience their plight.
Another thing to watch out for is a loss of data. If you are using popular cloud storage, such as Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive, you know you can rely on them to protect your files – up to a point. Their servers are not immune to all hacking attempts out there. Plus, servers are basically computers and they are prone to overheating or malfunctioning. While these companies are very good at protecting their servers, we really can’t say they are perfect.
Aside from that, cloud storage can be exposed to viruses and malware too. The corruption might not even come from other places, but from your network. It may be that your smartphone has a particularly malevolent virus and when you access your Evernote files, you unwittingly infect your online data.
Clearly, there is a reason to be careful. This is not scaremongering, however. There are a variety of ways you can effectively protect your data in the cloud.
Protecting Files and Information Stored in the Cloud
Whichever cloud storage you use and no matter how many, if you implement any of these tips, your data will be one level safer.
Strengthen Your Passwords
Easy to remember passwords are easy to crack. So make sure the ones you use are stronger. Avoid using name123, your birth date, anniversary, and codes that others can quickly guess. Instead, use something unique. It is also advisable to use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers. Aim to have a password with eight or more characters.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication
As its name suggests, two-factor authentication involves a second level of password security. This usually comes in handy when someone else tries to reset your password without permission. Most cloud storage providers offer this in the settings menu.
This is basically the part where you select a predetermined security question, or create a new one. Then, you need to provide an answer. Again, make sure the answer is something you only know. Your middle name, pet name, or grandma’s name can easily be discovered by someone who has average online searching skills. So, provide a strong enough security answer. Or you can even make stuff up.
Secure All Devices Accessing Your Cloud Storage
Say you have a really strong password and you enabled two-factor authentication. But since online storage is accessible from multiple devices, if one of those devices is compromised, then this can lead to trouble.
For example, what if your smartphone doesn’t have a lock screen and you don’t use an app locker. If you just leave it lying around, individuals with ill intentions can use it to open your Dropbox or Evernote. They can easily corrupt or copy your files. Therefore, ensure that all of the devices you are using are secure as well.
This is another great way to protect your data in the cloud. Many online storage providers offer encryption services for an extra fee. It can be worth it to avail yourself of that. Alternatively, encrypt your files prior to saving them in the cloud.
Do Not Save Sensitive Data Online
To be extra safe, don’t upload bank account details, sensitive business files, and other highly important information into the cloud. Instead, keep them well protected locally, on your computer.
Make Sure You Have Backups
Yes, we use the cloud in order to save space on our local hard drives. However, if you uploaded important files, it is best to back them up somewhere just in case the cloud storage servers malfunction or are corrupted by viruses. One good way is to use other cloud accounts to serve as backup. That way, you still free up space in your internal hard drives.
All in all, saving data in the cloud is an excellent way of maximizing interconnectivity between devices. Proper care must be taken, though, in order to keep all of your online files secure and give yourself peace of mind.