How secure is the cloud? That question is being asked by websites and journalists the world over in the wake of the recent leak of nude celebrity photos. which had been stored on Apple's iCloud but were stolen by hackers. According to Apple, the photos were accessed illegally because attackers were able to infiltrate the celebrity accounts themselves, targeting usernames and passwords. In other words, Apple says it wasn't a security breach of its cloud; only the accounts were compromised. Even so, people and companies are taking a renewed look at cloud computing and examining just how safe it is to save valuable data over the internet. With more and more customers turning to the cloud for their storage and computing needs, it's an important conversation to have. No cloud will be absolutely secure, but there are ways to reduce the chances of having sensitive information stolen, whether they be private photos or a company's sensitive data.
1. Know Where Data is Stored
With the use of so many mobile devices, people take pictures, send text messages, and save emails without giving much thought to where all that information is actually being stored. With so much focus on Apple, many people are realizing for the first time that their photos are being instantly saved to Apple's cloud services. Others may use programs, apps, and other services without knowing how and where it is being stored. Having this knowledge can prove invaluable, especially if a problem regarding storage comes to light.
2. Create Strong Passwords
As one of the first lines of defense, passwords should be an important part of any cloud security plan, but all too often, people and companies use weak passwords that are easy to remember. If you want to keep your information safe on the cloud, having strong passwords is a must. There are a number of guidelines to follow when it comes to creating a secure password. These guidelines include using eight or more characters and using punctuation, capitalization, numbers and symbols. This makes it difficult for attackers to determine how to access your accounts. Don't reuse the same password for multiple accounts either, and make sure to change up your password every so often.
3. Use Two-Step Identification
In addition to using a password, two-step identification can prove effective at improving your network security and keeping unwanted visitors from accessing your cloud profile. Two-step identification usually occurs when accessing the cloud from a new device. After logging in for the first time on a new laptop, smartphone, or tablet, you'll then be asked to input another authorization code, usually sent via text or email. Experts say this method of security is especially hard for hackers to break.
4. Know Your Cloud Provider
Whether using a mainstream company like Dropbox for your personal files or a cloud startup for your enterprise, you need to get to know your cloud provider, specifically what their security features are. Of particular importance is if the cloud vendor uses data encryption for the files you store with them and when that encryption takes place. It may be only while the data is being stored, while the data is being transferred, or both. Always consider the cloud provider's reputation, its policies, and how prepared it is to handle evolving security challenges.
5. Monitor Access Points
There are many ways to access the cloud, but the devices you use should be fairly limited. For example, you should only use your work laptop to access your business files stored on the cloud. Or you should only use your personal smartphone and tablet to open your emails. This strategy allows you to always know which device you've logged in to, which in turn helps you identify suspicious signs when they happen. If a hacker tries to access your cloud account from another device, you may even get an email alerting you to this fact, allowing you to respond or inform the cloud vendor. Keeping a close eye on all the devices you use for cloud services will help increase security and prevent attacks.
The cloud can be extremely convenient for storing all types of files, but as recent events have shown, nothing is completely safe. While the strategies listed above may seem simple, they can go a long way towards securing valuable data. Every person and every businesses should adopt these practices if they want to prevent information loss and promote a safer network.