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5 Trusted Ways to Make Sure Your Data Is Secure While Using Cloud Services

Posted In Technology Reviews, Online services, Online Storage, Products Review - By Techtiplib on Wednesday, February 6th, 2013 With No Comments »

Cloud services, particularly cloud storage, are a great way for you as a private individual, business owner or career professional to store your data in a highly secure and portable way that gives you data use and sharing flexibility. Thanks to these and assorted other reasons, cloud services have dramatically ramped up in consumer popularity since they were first commercially unveiled to enterprise clients at the end of 1999.

However, with this increased popularity comes far more risk of security breaches–especially amongst the massive consumer and small business user base due to often less stringent data protection policies or even a bit of ignorance of how to protect data online. That said, this doesn’t have to be the case and keeping your information well protected while moving it around the cloud isn’t really that hard to implement and maintain if you apply a few fairly straightforward strategies that we’re going to cover right now.

1. Choose an Already Secure Cloud Service

The first and most basic tip of all; making sure you only use a cloud service with a good reputation for confidentiality and high quality security policies. 

With the vast online competition for cloud customers in today’s market, this step isn’t too hard to execute with a little research, word of mouth questions to tech savvy friends and some common sense.

Either way you do your research, at least make sure that whichever cloud service you use is well backed up, uses the latest software and hardware platforms and is recognized by other users like you. You should also make sure your cloud services provider is vigilant about password strength, maintains rigorous monitoring and exception monitoring systems, stores data in well secured servers and has extremely strict protections against third party access to your data. 

2. If Possible, Lean Towards Encrypted Storage

This tactic applies particularly to cloud storage systems but it should be enforced wherever possible; for your really sensitive business or professional data, make use of a cloud storage service that encrypts your info in a way that grants only you access to what you store with them.

While many well-known services like Google Drive, DropBox and iCloud are great for most uses, they can see everything that you’re storing on their servers if they really want to, if you’re serious about total privacy, avoid them and either encrypt everything you store away on your own with a program like TrueCrypt or use a robust double blind encryption service that has no more access to your information than anyone else who doesn’t know the passkey. 

However, if you do this, make sure you never under any circumstances lose or forget your access/decryption passwords, because you can kiss your data goodbye if you do.

3. Take Advantage of Two Factor Authentication

Two factor authentication is a double layer of login security by which you’re asked to provide to entirely separate and distinct access factors in order to gain entry to your cloud service; one of them might be a password and the other a different key of some kind such as a one-time entry code that’s sent to your email address or smart phone. 

If your cloud provider offers this, use it and keep your two different authentication factors secure and separated. Cloud services like DropBox and Google Drive both offer two factor authentication; so do many other major providers of server storage and computing.

4. Get Serious About Passwords

Speaking of login security, let’s also take a moment to mention real password security. Instead of doing something silly like using your dog’s name or the numbers of your birthday for your cloud service login passwords, implement something more robust and think of long (at least 10 to 20 character) passkeys that contain multiple random numbers, letters in both lower and uppercase, and symbols if possible. Or, string together a series of several random words into a nonsense phrase and use that for password protection.

Make sure you apply a different password for each cloud account you use and be sure to remember your passwords or at least write them down on a single document that you keep well secured.

Don’t use any cloud service that simply doesn’t allow long passwords; if they as professionals in data management are that ignorant of something as basic as strong password protection, you can’t trust the rest of their security.

5. Check your Cloud Service’s Certifications 

That’s right, this exists and if you’re using cloud storage or computing within a professional setting where truly valuable data that is at serious risk of hacking or theft is being managed, certification checking may be a vital step –though not the only one and all of the previous tips should be rigorously followed by you on your end.

So, what kind of certifications? Well, for any professional level cloud service you use, be sure to see if they have been SSAE 16, SAS 70 or SOC 2 audited and on the customer end, try to find out if the service you use has had or now works with clients that have been HIPAA or PCI certified

 About the author: John Dayton is a season vet within the tech industry. When he’s not writing, you can find him working with or fishing with his two sons.

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