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Major cloud providers such as Dropbox, Google Drive and Apple’s iCloud allow users to store, process and share documents in the cloud, offering a convenient and cost-effective alternative to storing data at in-house servers.
However, the security of the data stored in the cloud remains a big concern, and has inhibited many enterprises from migrating to the cloud. With cloud storage, the enterprise loses physical control over the data, and safety of the data depends on the security deployments made by the third-party cloud provider. However, enterprises and users can adopt some additional security measures to ensure that their data remains safe, even when stored in the public cloud.
A major risk associated with cloud storage isincludes attackers intercepting the traffic as it passes through and forth between the user and the cloud server, and the risk of attackers stealing the data from the cloud server. Encrypting the data eliminates this risk. With the data encrypted, the attackers would not be able to read or make sense of the data even if they obtain it.
Many cloud services offer encryption as part of their offering. However, the most secure option is client-side encryption, using third-party software.
2. Use two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication entails having in place two layers of barriers that the user will have to pass, before accessing data. In most cases this means entering a unique one-time code, send by SMS, on entering the username and password. With this, hackers cannot gain access even if they crack the password. The cloud server could also authenticate company specific domains.
Taking local backups may defeat the very purpose of opting for cloud storage, but at times, when the document is hypercritical in nature, and losing it would be disastrous, it pays to keep local backup. The risks associated with the cloud is not just someone intercepting or stealing the data, but also the chances of the data getting lost dueto some technical glitch at the cloud server end. Backup, by synchronizing the documents between the cloud server and an external hard disk or some other local drive, would offer the best of both worlds.
4. Do not Neglect the Basics
Basic security best practices by itself would go a long way in keeping the data in the cloud safe. Deleting the data not required and retaining only the bare minimum, having good anti-virus software that would prevent the installation of malware such as keyloggers, keeping the wi-fi account locked down, refraining from navigating unsafe websites that may slip in malware, having a network monitoring system in place to detect unsuccessful login attempts,will help improve security and make it that much more difficult for hackers.
When mentioning the basics, passwords are obvious. Cloud users need to create unique user names and passwords for each one of their accounts. This limits the damage of a lost or hacked password to that specific account. It is also important to have strong passwords, preferably a mix of numbers, symbols, in a mix of upper and lower case. Of late, pass phrases have become popular in lieu of passwords as well. The more complex the password, the harder it becomes for attackers to guess, brute-force or hack the password through other means.
All it takes is a common-sense approach to secure the data stored in the cloud. However, as experience with computer security shows, people neglect the basics and the obvious more often than not.