Consumers have embraced cloud storage because of the many conveniences offered: You can access your information from any device, you can work with others on documents at the same time, and you no longer need a stockpile discs, portable drives, and other means of backup. Saving information on a cloud means you no longer have to worry about losing pictures of your sister’s wedding due to a computer virus, and you don’t have to email yourself documents when you want to move from the desktop to the laptop.
Consumers need to understand how Cloud services work, and what measures providers, and consumers, can take to secure data stored in the Cloud.
Where is Cloud Data Stored?
When you think of the Cloud, you imagine information floating in thin air, but here’s what really happens: The information saved to the Cloud travels to a network of hundreds of computers connected by servers, often in multiple locations. Each company offering Cloud storage has a physical location which stores data and conveys that information through Wi-Fi networks when you need access. Because you no longer store information on your specific device, you can reach the data center from any internet connection giving you seamless access to information when and where you want it.
Benefits and Risks of Cloud Storage
In addition to having easy access and unlimited storage, saving information on the cloud offers better security than most home systems. Large companies such as Google Docs or DropBox have more financial resources to prevent data hacks and breaches keeping your information safe from cyber theft.
No system is impenetrable: Companies have experience with computer breaches and take measures daily to secure sensitive data stored on their servers. The biggest risk to your individual account is not taking personal security measures to protect the information you store. The level of protection is greatly dependent on the strength of your passwords.
Companies typically use multiple layers of encryption, store information in multiple locations, and use sophisticated software to prevent cyber thieves from gaining access to consumer and business data stored on their servers.
The Best Way to Secure Your Data
In addition to the steps cloud servicers take to secure data you should do the following to ensure your individual account is not vulnerable to hackers.
1) Choose a service provider that uses multi-factor authentication and encryption. Using multiple security steps increases the security level of your data.
2) Choose Strong Passwords. Choosing birthday’s, house address numbers, and even your mother’s maiden name is not secure because of the abundance of information available through public records. Choose long passwords which contain both upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. Do not use the same password for less secure accounts like Facebook, as you use for more secure accounts like your bank.
3) Store Data in Multiple Accounts. It is good to keep important documents like tax returns in multiple places.
4) Watch Public Browsing. Just as web surfing on public networks can leave holes in your security, saving and accessing Cloud data on public network poses similar risks. Never save your password when logging into public computers and use caution when accessing sensitive information.
Selecting the Best Cloud Servicing Company
Many companies offer free storage for your personal information from photos to financial data on remote cloud servers. Yet, not all companies offer the same level of protection for your data. Large companies such as DropBox, Microsoft, Sugar Sync, and Amazon Drive offer a set amount of data storage which meets the needs of most families. A good tip for making sure things are safe you can also create multiple accounts with different emails to extend your storage capacity.
In addition to choosing a provider you trust, learn what security they use to protect your data. Do they have stringent password requirements forcing you to choose a higher-level password? Do they offer two-factor authentication? When you must input both a username and password, data is more secure than only requiring one piece of information.
Maintaining servers in multiple locations and using multiple cloud-based services are redundancy practices that lead to better data security. If a natural disaster damages servers at one site, information can still be retrieved from a second site if they practice redundant storage.
Much like chip credit cards provide better encryption during the buying transaction; companies use encryption to prevent data theft during the transfer from the server to your computer or smartphone.
Safe Practices for Storing Data on The Cloud
Back up critical data. Not all information stored on servers is equal. Ensure you store items with the most value in multiple places: You can back up data with multiple cloud companies and also on a physical hard drive. Having a backup adds an additional layer of protection should servers crash or an unforeseen event impact your ability to retrieve needed information.
Consider how much storage space you need. Many companies offer free storage but in limited quantities. If you reach that limit quickly, you could have to pay a monthly fee to keep everything together.
Cloud storage can provide a safe and convenient way to store information. You can access information from any device that has an internet connection, and in many cases, the information stored is more secure than on a home computer. However, you must take steps to ensure your data remains secure by taking security precautions when you access your information from your devices.
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