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Cloud security, or cloud risk?

Jul 27, 2020.

If you don’t already use the cloud, chances are you’re thinking about doing so. Or wondering what it’s all about. And with several cloud security breaches hitting the news in recent months, you may even be wondering whether there’s such a thing as safe cloud storage.

Here’s everything you need to know about cloud privacy and security – and our verdict on whether we should trust it.

 

 

What is the cloud?

A cloud storage service allows you to store files in a central location and access them through any device via the Internet. So, should your device become lost, stolen or damaged, your files will still be safe and sound with your cloud service provider. At least, that’s the idea.

 

 

Why are people worried about it?

In short, a lack of control. In using one of these services, you’re handing over your files and trusting a company to look after them. And cloud security breaches have been known to occur.

 

That said, no form of file storage is entirely risk-free. So, the question isn’t whether there’s such a thing as 100%-safe cloud storage. It’s whether the cloud is more or less risky than your hard drive.

 

 

What are the actual risks?

The principal concern for most people is hacking. And it isn’t entirely unwarranted. The most common form of hack is against individuals, usually when cybercriminals somehow obtain a person’s password and use it to access their files (you may have heard about this happening to some unfortunate celebrities). That said, hacking the cloud itself is much more difficult and, therefore, much rarer.

 

Perhaps a more significant concern is cloud privacy. Governments and law enforcement can request access to data stored on the cloud, which is often handed over. Cloud providers may even use the data they hold to power other services they offer, such as indexing and searching. While this isn’t a security concern, it’s worth bearing in mind if you value privacy.

 

 

What are the upsides?

  • The server warehouses in which your files are stored are extremely secure locations. Few employees have direct access and they’re guarded 24/7.
  • Your files will be heavily encrypted, which makes it much harder to hack the cloud than your hard drive.
  • It’s usually cheaper than buying your own physical backup storage devices.
  • It’s easy to use: back up is automatic, and accessing your files is just a password away.
  • You can access and back up your files anywhere you have an Internet connection.

 

 

Is there anything I can do to maximise my cloud security?

While cloud storage is already very secure, there are a few things you can do to make it even safer:

  • Use a service that offers two-factor authentication, in which you use your password plus some other method (such as using a specific device) to verify your identity.
  • Use a strong password
  • Use an extra cloud service instead of having everything in one place.
  • If you have specific privacy concerns, back up particularly sensitive documents to a hard drive that remains disconnected from your computer.
  • Use a VPN service to encrypt your data as it moves through the Internet (especially when you’re on public Wi-Fi).
  • Use encryption software to add an additional layer of encryption to sensitive files before backing them up to the cloud.

 

Our verdict

On balance, cloud storage is significantly more secure than your hard drive. And, if you’re still worried, there’s plenty you can do to make your already safe cloud storage even more secure.

 

That said, every additional layer of security will make your cloud storage service harder to use, and using all of them will probably be overkill for most people. So, think carefully about whether extra security at the expense of convenience is right for you.

 

We will be happy to answer all your questions about the security of your IT and your residential property.

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