Security concerns are one of the top reasons people hesitate to use the cloud. Who can blame them? After all, how many celebrity scandals have happened due to cloud accounts being hacked?
While there is never a way to make any service or computer 100% secure (hackers are incredible persistent), it’s possible to make your cloud account so secure that the odds of being hacked are all but eliminated.
Cloud services are a must for backing up irreplaceable photos and documents. So, don’t let security fears keep you from utilizing this technology.
1. Create Strong Passwords
This doesn’t just apply to cloud services. In most cases, it’s not the cloud provider that’s hacked, but individual accounts. It’s possible a hacker got your details by hacking another service, such as the massive Yahoo hack. If you use the same password on multiple accounts, all the hacker has to do is simply log in with ease. Or, if you use a simple password, they’re able to “guess” it using special tools in just minutes.
A few tips for creating stronger passwords include:
Mix uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols
Longer is better
Avoid using common phrases or slang
Make every password at least a little unique (even adding a different symbol makes a difference)
Use a specific letter (or number/symbol in place of a letter) from each word in a sentence only you know
For help in creating stronger passwords, try these resources:
Webroot’s How Do I Create A Strong Password?
If you need help remembering your passwords, consider storing them on a spreadsheet on a flash drive or using a password storage app.
2. Only Use Reliable Services
There are hundreds of cloud storage providers. While that ultra cheap one that claims to offer unlimited storage sounds nice, it might not be secure. Always look for security features, such as encryption. If there aren’t any built-in security features, use a different cloud service.
3. Avoid Uploading Sensitive Data
While you might want a backup of your tax documents, storing them in the cloud might not be safe. Highly sensitive data that hackers could use to compromise your identity are best stored at home. Consider storing them on an external hard drive or flash drive and placing that in a safety deposit box at your local bank as a backup.
4. Encrypt Before You Upload
If your entire purpose for using the cloud is to back up those sensitive documents, there is a way to make the cloud more secure for those files. Simply encrypt your files before you upload them. It’s even better when your cloud service encrypts too. Heimdal Security suggests nine free encryption tools to help you take control over your files’ security.
5. Minimize Access
The cloud is so incredibly easy to use and all it takes is a few clicks to connect numerous services for automatic uploads. However, every service you connect means a possible vulnerability. If a hacker gets access to one service, they could access your cloud files.
Instead, regularly review your cloud service account to see which third-party services are connected. If it’s not absolutely necessary, revoke access.
6. Use Basic Security Precautions
Since you likely have your cloud provider’s app on your phone, tablet or desktop, you have to take basic security precautions on the device you’re using. A few ways to keep your cloud account more secure include:
Using updated anti-virus and anti-malware tools Never upload files using public Wi-Fi (use a VPN if you have to) Update your cloud app to the latest version Only share your device with people you trust Never visit questionable sites, download suspicious apps or open emails/texts from senders you don’t trust
7. Don’t Share Your Files
Unless absolutely necessary, don’t share your files. This is different for businesses where collaboration is one of the main reasons for cloud storage services. For individuals, limit sharing. When you do share files, place them in a different folder and only share with specific people. If you want to optimize security even more, use one cloud provider for files you want to share and another provider for private files.
Cloud storage services aren’t something to fear. Just be careful and your files will remain secure and backed up.