Safe Data Storage On Cloud-Based Systems
Cloud storage can be described as the ability to store information on a server located somewhere else on the internet. This facility enables you to log on to a third party provider site where you are allocated a storage area. The size of the storage area usually depends on the service agreement with the provider. Some cloud based storage facilities, such as DropBox and Microsoft SkyDrive, allow the user a certain amount of space for free. Any additional space has to be paid for. Additional space can also be earned by introducing more users to the storage facility.
Advantages of cloud-based systems
Cloud-based storage systems have many advantages over their physical counterparts, including:
- File access: Users can access their data from any location where internet is available, and can do so on computers, tablets or mobile devices, such as smartphones.
- Safe storage: Overall, cloud-based systems can store data safer than a USB device or computer. As the information is stored on the internet and off-site, it will not be affected by the breakage of the storage device. Data which has been saved over or deleted by mistake can also be retrieved by experts a lot easier than if it was stored on a local storage device.
- Versioning: As the data on the third party server is constantly updated, versions of your documents are available in case of accidental deletion.
- File sharing: It is possible to share parts or all of your storage facility with one or more people. Often, it is difficult to send large files, such as photo albums or portfolios, via the internet; dumping them on a cloud-based system and the giving others permission to access these files can be a lot easier.
There are, of course, risks to using these facilities. For example, data can be lost and pirated, and hackers can uncover private details. However, there are always steps you can take to ensure that your data remains as safe as possible.
- Encryption: Ensure that your connection to the cloud provider is encrypted. The lock icon, which indicates security encryption, has to show up in your browser bar. If there is no icon, it means that the connection is not securely encrypted, and a middleman may be able to get entry to your files.
- Private computing: Try, as far as possible, to use only private computers for your cloud-based functions. Public internet places and Wi-Fi spots can ‘spy’ on any processes taking place on the system, giving people access to your files.
- Password strength: We have passwords for a reason: to protect our data’s integrity. Ensure that that password you choose is a combination of characters and numbers, upper and lower case to make it as secure as you can. Also, try to stay away from obvious passwords, such as names, birthdays and phone numbers. Where possible, opt for multifactor authentication, which will request two or more forms of identification during log on.
- Cloud security: Ensure that the provider you use has a security statement in place which mentions SSL encryption functionality. It must also give details about updates, storage and backups. Most cloud providers should have some kind of recognizable certification to show that audits are performed regularly. Also, ensure that you know if and how your private information will be used for marketing.
- Keep sensitive data private: It is best to keep potentially sensitive or confidential information, such as bank account details, credit records, and medical files, away from cloud-based storage systems.
- Backups: Even though cloud providers do regular backups, it is still essential that you perform backups of your own material on a regular basis.
Cloud-based storage provides a very handy service; however, it is best that you and your family know how to use this service safely. If you need further advice please do contact your cloud-based provider before blindly signing up!