Cloud storage could just be the best thing since sliced bread, what with seemingly unlimited storage capabilities, low cost, and quick, easy access to files. They even have something of a built-in protective measure thanks to the fact that data is spread out over many servers instead of being confined to just one like a lame duck for hackers or malicious software to target. And yet, for some unscrupulous parties this is only a challenge, and one they have accepted. More than one cloud storage host has experienced breach activity (Amazon included) leading to stolen data and malware insertion. Although hackers may not be entirely capable of stealing complete packets of information without a password to gain full access to data, they can (and have) hacked passwords. So what can you do to keep your data safe in the cloud (besides creating complex passwords)? Here are a few tips.
- Protect data first. It's nice to have a large and relatively secure space to store your data, but no one is as concerned about protecting it as you are. Since you're relying heavily on a third party to ensure that your sensitive information doesn't get into the wrong hands, it can't hurt to take extra precautions on your end. You're cloud storage will be password protected for certain and it may or may not have other security measures in place, but you can always encrypt your own data before you place it in storage for added protection.
- Use multiple networks. Many businesses that store data on the cloud are worried about customer information (credit card numbers, for example) getting stolen, while individual cloud users may fear that their SSN and other personal data could be used for identity theft, or that a cache of family photos could become corrupted and get lost forever. If you're truly worried about these types of breaches one option is to spread your own data across multiple networks (although this will entail more work on your end) in order to ensure that you never suffer total loss.
- Ask about backup. Even though cloud networks seem to exist in the no-man's-land of virtual space, the truth is that your data is still hosted on physical servers (much like the ones that you could have in your own office) which means that they are subject to the same types of issues. So you might want to ask how often data is backed up and if it is put in a separate location (this is not only relevant for break-in scenarios, but also so you can access info during maintenance shut-downs).
- Coordinate with your web host. At some point you may be transferring information from your website to your cloud storage network, at which point it may be vulnerable. Check in with your web host to find out if they have security measures in place (encryption, for example) to ensure that sensitive information is safe.
- Read contracts, ask questions. It's important to know what kind of service you're getting before you agree to the terms and condition, so take the time to peruse the contract and ask for more info if you need it. This will help you to find the cloud storage network that best suits your personal or professional needs and ensure the greatest safety for your data.