How secure is your data when it’s in the cloud?

Article header with image of cloud data overlaid on laptop

Cloud data storage solutions are used by millions of individuals and businesses. In recent years, the ability to access data from wherever you are has never been more important. As a result, there has been a growth in the use of cloud technologies to meet this new need.

You may already use these services on products such as Apple devices, which have the option for users to create and use an iCloud account. The convenience and security that cloud data storage offer is useful, but how do they work to keep our data safe?

First, we need to know what clouds are

To put it simply, cloud data solutions are systems that allow their users to save files onto an off-site system. These files can then be accessed from anywhere with a wifi signal and login, negating the need to use physical hard drives.

Clouds offer a wide range of advantages for both business and personal use. Much like using a cash machine to deposit your money into for use somewhere else at a later time, clouds offer a great level of security and flexibility.

How cloud data storage is made secure

Due to the data being stored on third-party systems, cloud providers have to ensure that the data they are looking after is secure at all times. To do this, they offer many methods to users to ensure that only they can access their files.

As passwords can be compromised, one security measure used is multi-factor authentication (MFA). Often seen on online banking, multi-factor authentication requires more than one piece of information to let a user into data. This is often used in the form of required login details, and then one other form of data such as a security code sent to the user’s mobile device. Using this extra step makes it much harder for hackers to gain access to the cloud data.

Although most cloud providers offer systems such as MFA, the security solutions offered to depend on the system you use. For example, Apple’s iCloud service uses ‘secure tokens’, which prevents users from storing their passwords on all their devices. Because of this, it’s important to consider your needs before choosing a cloud provider since not all of them offer the same levels of security.

Potential problems

With any cloud data storage system, there will be risks to security that need to be minimised. Due to these systems being based online, there are a few ways data can become vulnerable.

When surfing the internet away from work or home, users should be wary of what networks they are connecting to. Sometimes cybercriminals will set up fake networks to spy on user’s actions, potentially gaining the login details to your cloud. Along with this, any spyware which has infiltrated your device may also capture this information. Luckily, there are ways we can help protect our cloud data by following some best-practice and using the security features of our cloud systems.

Preventing a breach

As we all know, some cybersecurity best practices can be used to prevent data infiltration. However, there are other methods you can use in combination with best practices to give an extra level of protection.

Keeping your cloud data safe is all about restricting the access users can have to it. For instance, when you choose to share files with coworkers, ensure you retract that access once they no longer need access. This can be done by removing that user, locking the document, or other methods.

By limiting the number of users, you limit the points of access a cybercriminal can use. Some cloud data storage providers (like Apple) also allow you to ‘unlink’ devices, preventing them from accessing that cloud. This is extremely useful for instances of lost or stolen devices that could pose a security threat.

Clouds are safe to use if you use them correctly

Like any database system, how secure the data is within it depends on its users. Often breaches occur due to human error, and although software systems can limit the damage, they can’t prevent it entirely.

By following the best practices and utilising the protection available, you can keep your data safe, no matter what platform it is held on.

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