Recent events have demonstrated just how insecure cloud storage can be. But there are steps you can take to keep yourself and your data safe. This article takes a look at several steps users can take to protect their most sensitive images and documents.
The high profile theft of sensitive celebrity photos from Apple’s iCloud service in August 2014 had users all over the world taking a second look at their own security. Regardless of the nature of the photographs they take or the documents they create, iCloud users are reviewing their data and looking for better ways to keep it safe.
You may not be a famous celebrity, but there are steps you can take to keep your own data safe in the cloud. If you do not relish the thought of your most intimate photographs all over the web, you need to take these security steps right now.
Always Use Two-Step Verification
Apple iCloud and competing cloud services include built-in security, but many users do not bother to turn it on. No matter which cloud service you are using or how much data you store there, always insist on two-step verification.
Related Reading: Does Privacy Still Exist?
When you turn on two-step verification, the cloud service will send a code to your smartphone, and you must enter that code to gain access to your photographs and other files. Since hackers do not have physical access to the smartphone in your pocket, they cannot access your information even if they have your password.
Be Smart About Your Challenge Questions
When you set up security at banking sites, brokerage firms and other sensitive places on the web, you may be asked to set up questions that only you know the answers to. Those challenge questions are intended to protect your identity and the security of your data, but they are only as good as the answers you provide.
Too many users choose challenge questions that are easy for others to guess. Using obvious questions like your maiden name or the mascot of the high school you attended is just asking for trouble. A quick look at your Facebook page would probably give a hacker all the information they need to defeat your security and hack into your account.
Different people take different approaches to answering challenge questions. Some choose nonsense words that no one will be able to guess, while others select more obscure questions. No matter which approach you take, make sure your security questions are giving you the protection you need.
Think About What You Keep in the Cloud
One of the easiest ways to protect your sensitive data from cloud-based hacking is to not put it there in the first place. Having every photograph you take with your iPhone or Android device automatically sent to the cloud is very convenient, and it provides valuable protection if your phone is lost or stolen.
That does not mean, however, that you need to let every picture you take go to the cloud. If you do plan to take intimate photographs or record sensitive images, turn off the automatic cloud storage before you do so. You can always turn the iCloud storage service back on later.
It pays to ask yourself a few questions before allowing private documents or photographs on to the cloud. If you expect to use the file solely on your laptop or smartphone and do not need to share it with others, it probably does not belong in the cloud. If you do need to collaborate with an outside team, cloud storage can provide that convenience.
Here’s an article that compares the pros and cons of local vs cloud storage: Protect What’s Yours – Local Vs. Cloud Storage for File Sharing
Encrypt Your Files
Any good cloud storage service will include the latest encryption algorithms, but the data could still be at risk. In most cases the files you send to the cloud will not be encrypted until they get there, and that is a dangerous hole in their security.
The simplest solution is to encrypt all your files before uploading them to the cloud. It may take a few extra minutes and some extra work, but protecting your sensitive files while they are traveling to the cloud is very important.
Cloud storage services are here to stay, and they can be very convenient. If you have ever lost your smartphone, you were probably very happy that every image you captured was sitting in the cloud waiting for you.
With the right precautions, you can enjoy all the benefits that come with cloud storage without falling victim to hackers or others who want to benefit from your sensitive images.