The cloud is becoming an ever more popular option for saving important files, including personal photographs, work documents, passwords, and more.
While there are numerous benefits to having your information accessible to you, no matter which device you use and where you access it from, safety is one of the biggest concerns people have with cloud storage.
Storing your information on the cloud can protect it from physical damage, including that caused by break-ins, weather damage, and accidents. However, there is also the worry that you are opening yourself up to online risks, including those posed by data theft, data loss, and security concerns.
While these concerns are understandable, they are also easily addressed. It is undoubtedly true that, if properly managed, documents on the cloud are much safer than those stored in your computer’s hard drive and on physical copies. Here are some safety tips you can follow to safeguard your important documents.
Change Your Passwords
One of the most crucial parts of keeping your cloud account secure is to ensure that you have a strong password. This means using a password that is long and unique to make it difficult to guess. Additionally, it is recommended that you change your password at least once every 60-90 days and keep your list of passwords safe. If you find it difficult to remember your passwords, make sure to use a password manager to make it easier.
Make sure to use two-factor authentication if available. This ensures that even if malicious actors get hold of your username and password, they will not be able to access your documents, as you will have to authenticate their access from your phone.
While cloud services are secure if used properly, it’s always best to take as many precautions as possible, especially with important documents. When storing information on an online storage service like a cloud provider, ensure your data is encrypted. You can use easily accessible downloadable tools to encrypt your files before uploading them.
When you download your files, you can use the same tools to decrypt them, reducing the risk to your information if it is accessed by someone who does not have your permission to do so. Additionally, if possible, make sure that the cloud provider you choose offers default encryption, which provides an added layer of protection.
Remember to Sign Out
While staying logged into accounts and having your computer remember your log-in details can be extremely convenient, logging out when you are done using your cloud account is always essential. This helps reduce the risk of unauthorized access to your documents, especially if you are working on a shared device (such as a household computer or a computer in an Internet café).
Read the Terms & Conditions
Many people believe that because a cloud service is popular, they won’t need to do much research about the provider’s policies and terms and conditions. However, it’s essential to know what you are agreeing to when you sign up for a service, especially as businesses have been known to hide clauses within the terms and conditions page that you would not usually agree to. By making sure you have all the information necessary, you can make an informed decision whether a given service is right for your documents.
Some information to keep an eye out for includes:
- What personal data does the service collect?
- For how long will an account remain active following an extended period of inactivity? What do they define as an extended period of inactivity?
- Do they store your data following account deactivation? If so, for how long?
- Do they sell your personal data to third-party services?
- Are there restrictions on what type of files you can upload to the service?
- Does the provider delete your files when you deactivate your account?
Deactivate Old Devices
Most of us update our electronic devices at least once every few years. However, our old devices may still have access to our cloud accounts, especially ones in which you signed in to your account and never signed out, like with Apple devices and the iCloud.
It’s essential to make it a habit to log out of all old accounts when switching electronic devices. If the device in question is yours, you should also consider performing a factory reset of the device, just to add additional confirmation that your information is safe.
You should also check to make sure that you are aware of which (if any) third-party apps are connected to your cloud and review permissions frequently, revoking your consent if you no longer need the functionality the app offers.
The cloud can be an extremely effective tool in safeguarding your information and ensuring you are always able to access it. However, it’s essential to make sure you follow all relevant safety procedures – like all data placed online, it can be vulnerable to data breaches, and following safety guidelines reduces the risk of your data being accessed by unauthorized personnel.