As we enter the era of cloud computing, many users remain skeptical about the security of their documents and files, and the cloud system in general. Truthfully, cloud systems are fairly secure, but not 100%. As with any data storage system, there is still a chance of your information being accessed by the wrong person.
Here are four tips to help you safely store data in the cloud.
1. Cloud encryption is key
When you store files in the cloud, they are actually stored on a physical server somewhere, and should be encrypted. Encryption is the conversion of data and messages into a form that can’t be easily read by unintended parties. Check with your provider and inquire about what encryption they use on their servers. With most digital systems, encryption will make files unreadable without the proper key, which decodes the information and turns it into something we can read.
Checking with the different services you use can go a long way in helping you decide what to store and where. For example, Google doesn’t currently encrypt files stored on Google Drive. The same goes for Evernote and the free version of Dropbox. There is rumor that these companies, especially Google, are working on establishing encryption for all files but this may not happen for a while. Some providers like SugarSync do use encryption but it may not be enough. To ensure maximum security, look for providers that offer at least 128-bit AES encryption. Anything higher will obviously be better.
2. Secure files before they go online
All encryption can be broken; some forms just take longer. To add another level of security, you can encrypt or secure your files before they are uploaded to the cloud. Many popular programs like Office and Adobe Acrobat allow users to encrypt documents with a password.
Another option is to add a password for access before the files are uploaded. There are other options as well, including using a program like boxcryptor that creates an encrypted folder on your hard drive and links to various cloud storage services. When you place a file into the boxcryptor folder, it will be synced with the related service and automatically encrypted.
3. Ensure files are secure when being moved
One of the weakest links of almost all cloud solutions happens when information is being uploaded, or “synced” from your computer to the cloud. Some solutions will send information unencrypted, which means hackers will be able to capture the information as it leaves or enters your network or the solution’s network.
Make sure that the cloud solutions you use encrypt data while it is being uploaded. Almost all current cloud services do this, but please check before you upload sensitive data.
4. Lock down your accounts
This can be a bit of a hassle but it will help keep your account and all of the important information/files stored on the cloud service secure. What do we mean by ‘lock down’? For the most part it means follow standard security protocol: Use a different password for every site and service, change passwords on a regular basis, don’t give passwords away, and enable dual authentication if possible.
Services like Google Drive and DropBox offer two-factor (dual) authentication. With two-factor authentication enabled, you will need to do an additional step before gaining access to your files. This usually means entering a code sent in a text message to your phone, or answering a security question.
If you take these steps to ensure that your files and systems are secure, you minimize your chance of having files or information stolen. We do have to emphasize again that nothing is 100% secure, but the more steps you take, the more you increase the security of your information. If you’re looking for the right high security cloud storage solution to meet your needs, contact Providence to see how we can help.