The days of being tethered by data banks are gone. The world is now moving up to the cloud and is bringing all its data along. Storing your data in the cloud, be it accounting information, personal records, photos, or other documents is an exceptional marvel of technology that has provided a huge boost to productivity and efficiency.
Cloud storage provides access to your data from anywhere in the globe. This has revolutionized international operations as geographical constraints are not a concern anymore. However, like every good thing, cloud storage too has its shortcomings. By providing access all around the globe and at all the times, it is also privy to attempts by hackers who could easily get into the servers and play around all they want.
Although cloud storage service providers do have excellent security measures as the old saying goes, “Locks only work on honest men”. Thus, it is up to the users to make sure there’s no lapse from their side to ensure the maximum security available to their precious data. Here we’ve discussed seven rules that you must follow when storing or sharing data on the cloud in order to ensure complete data security:
1. Research before you choose your service provider
Lots of options pop up when you decide to move your data to the cloud. Firstly, have patience and don’t choose the first one that you like. Browse through all the available providers, view their plans and select the ones with the best features – pricing, flexibility, and accessibility to name a few.
Once you have a few probable options that fit your price range, view all of their privacy policies and user agreements. Reading those long and boring documents might make you want to kill yourself but have some faith, all that effort won’t be in vain. Once you have a shorter list of service providers, check out their security certificates, verify them, see that they are issued by a worthwhile and reputed establishment and if it seems that everything is alright, feel free to go for it.
2. Don’t be careless when choosing passwords
These days making new passwords has become similar to doing laundry, everyone does it at least once a week. With so many websites around, all of them bugging you to make an account and have a password, taking password creation seriously are almost impossible. Either folks use the same password for all of their accounts or they try to make simple, easy to remember ones.
Do not have this attitude when creating a password for your cloud storage. Unlike social media accounts, where getting your passwords disclosed will end with an embarrassing status or a foolish tweet at the most, if somebody is able to use your cloud storage account via gaining illegal access to your password, you might end up facing bankruptcy or even a lawsuit.
So it is essential that you create a strong, unique and complex password that is really hard to crack or remember for a third party. Try to involve numbers and characters in the mix and completely avoid using your own name, nicknames, your company’s name or those of your close ones. A mix of upper and lower case letters is also helpful.
3. Follow strict authentication protocols
Now you have a good service provider with reliable security standards as well as a strong password you can sit back and relax, right? NO! You can’t. While you are relaxing and sipping iced tea, you know who else is relaxing? The hacker who just hacked your password. A hacker who knows his stuff won’t be sweating a lot to crack your password as this experiment will tell you.
So, it’s up to you to have as many roadblocks as you can use to safeguard your data. A perfect way for this is having a proper authentication protocol. A simpler way would be having a 2 step authentication procedure. This adds an extra layer of security allowing you to have that iced tea in relative peace.
4. Encrypt your stuff before you send them to the cloud
Encryption has been around for a long time but it has become one of the most trending security features these days in a lot of IT companies. Encryption in very simple terms is the encoding of messages or information in such a way that only authorized parties can read it. But to encrypt all your data as well as the data, everyone else has put up with the service provider can take up a lot of time as well as resources.
So, the easiest way is to do it yourself. However, some service providers do boast of their excellent encryption facilities. They usually charge more but a proper security lock is worth its bills, as any banker who was ever robbed will tell you.
There are some software available that will let you encrypt your data before you upload it to the cloud. Choose one of them and put a password lock on your data. Now, even if someone gets access to the cloud server and downloads your data, the guy won’t be able to use it because you, being the smart guy that you are, have another password to block illegitimate access.
5. Have a backup
If there’s some data that you just can’t live without, the best bet is having a backup on a local storage. While it beats the purpose of using cloud storage at all, everyone knows it’s better to be safe than sorry. Sort out the most important stuff and put them on a hard disk.
Additionally, if local storage is not the thing for you, look for the second choice you had when choosing the service provider, open up another account and opt for one of the smaller sized plan and put up your important stuff there. This way in case of security breach or server problems, you would still be able to use your more important data from the other cloud storage.
6. Coach your staff about basic security protocols
If you are using cloud storage as a base for all your company’s data, there may be chances that you are not the only one using the account. The more people who have access to your data the more are there chances of security breaches.
Teaching your staff about the know-hows of security protocols is quite important. A lot of holes in security occur because of some oversights by the users. Educate your staff about the benefits of a good password and to be cautious about logging off when they are done with their work. A well-educated staff will keep you free from worrying needlessly.
7. Avoid putting up sensitive information
The easiest way of avoiding being in a fix is to not put up any overly sensitive information in the cloud. Only upload data that won’t affect you or your work majorly. Highly personal or confidential information should be avoided sending to the cloud. No matter how many walls you put up some guy might be able to scale them all so avoid putting anything up in the clouds that you can do without.
There have been quite a few major hacks to cloud storage in the past so always be vary. No place is foolproof.
These rules would help you feel a bit more secure when putting up your data in the cloud. Try to find the correct balance between your required level of protection and the resources you spend on doing so. Cloud storage brings with it unlimited opportunities and advantages and if you adhere to all the above mentioned security rules you will find yourself in a pretty sweet spot.