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January 13, 2015 | Leave a Comment
Cloud storage—a service that allows you to upload documents, photos, videos and other files to a website in order to share those files with others or for backup storage—is proliferating across the Internet. Users can access their files stored in the cloud from any location on any type of device. While it’s easy to use, a quick glance at recent newspaper headlines shows that storing files in the cloud—especially sensitive files—is not without risks.
For example, in late August, an anonymous hacker extracted private, nude photos of several major celebrities from Apple’s online iCloud storage service. Because the celebrities had synced their iPhones with their iCloud storage, any photos they took on their phones were automatically saved in the cloud. Apple believes that the hacker either correctly answered the users’ security questions or used a phishing scam to breach the celebrities’ accounts.
The message is clear: Anything saved in the cloud is vulnerable. Therefore, if you choose to store your business’ files in the cloud, check that the security and availability is right for the types of files you want to upload. When considering whether to use a cloud storage service, ask yourself the following:
- Who can access my files? Choose the privacy control that matches the sensitivity of your files: private (only you can view the files, although the cloud storage provider may be able to view them, too); public (everyone can view the files without any restriction); and shared (only people you invite can view them).
- What is my password? Choose a strong, unique password, and never use the same password across more than one site.
- What are the storage provider’s terms and conditions? Reputable cloud storage providers should have clear, transparent information describing how they secure your information. If you cannot find it or feel the terms are unclear, shop around for other providers.
- What types of encryption does the provider offer? Encryption adds a further layer of security by rendering your files illegible unless the user has the decryption key. Some cloud storage providers encrypt files on your behalf.