How Secure Is Cloud Storage?

     I saw an interesting discussion today.  Someone brought up the question of how secure is cloud storage.  That's a very good question and could use some discussion.  With the cloud being such a big buzzword recently a lot of people are starting to use services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive.  But how secure are the services really?  First we need to take a quick look about where is your data saved when you save it to the "cloud".

     We you save something to say, Dropbox, it is actually saved on Dropbox's servers somewhere.  These servers can be anywhere in the world but typically they are in the United States when you use US based companies.  The Safe Harbor situation with the US and Europe kind of muddles that however.  But that's a different discussion.  So rather then saving your data on your computer or device, you are putting it on a companies servers.  Now that company has the responsibility of protecting their servers same as you would your computers.  Firewalls, Anti-Virus, Anti-Malware, just to name a few.  Normally companies use much more in the way of security then you or I would at our homes and they should.  They hold a lot of people's data in their hands.

    Now knowing that, how secure do you think your data actually is.  Good cloud storage providers will use encryption not only on their servers but also on the connections you use to them when you are transferring files.  This keeps your data safe, for the most part, from people who try to sneak a peek at it while it is moving across the internet.  That combined with the enterprise level of security they employ to protect their servers will keep your data protected against people who try to hack in and steal it.  But that only protects your data from one possible vector of attack against your data.

     If you were to ever let someone else use your cloud storage accounts they could inadvertently cause harm to your data.  I am sure you would only let someone else into your account if you trust them, but accidental deletions have been known to happen in these situations.  Also if they were to upload a file that was infected by a virus that virus could spread to the rest of your data before any security would know about it.  This can be avoided however by not sharing cloud storage accounts and using the shared folder feature that most providers have.

     Now I have both a Dropbox and Google Drive account that I alone have access to.  I put lots of files on them for the sake of convenience and extra storage however I do not put everything up there.  I do not put financial information or anything that I would not share on a social network.  I assume that at one point or another my data in cloud storage will be hacked.  The reason I look at it like that is simply that cloud storage is a more tempting target for hackers.  Sure it may be more difficult for hackers to get through all the enterprise security to get at that data then to just hack my home computers.  But if they do, then the reward is that much bigger for them.  They hack me at home, they only get my data.  They hack Dropbox, well then they have the data of the thousands and thousands and thousands of users on Dropbox.  A much better reward for the time and risk involved.

    So, how secure is cloud storage?  That is really for you to decide but in my opinion you are good to use it.  Just don't share accounts or put up anything you would consider sensitive.  That's a couple of good guidelines.
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About Richard Nihells

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2 comments:

  1. Cloud storage safety, share-ability and collaboration features are key elements to consumer selection of cloud services.
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  2. Good cloud storage providers will use encryption not only on their servers but also on the connections you use to them when you are transferring files. This keeps your data safe, for the most part, from people who try to sneak a peek at it while it is moving across the internet.
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