6 Tips To Increase Your Cloud Security
Up, Up, and Away
I’m going to make an educated guess and assume that most people who use a computer are now familiar in some way with the cloud. I’m not talking about that big bundle of overcast grey clouds sitting outside your window either. No, I’m talking about that theoretical cloud that floats above us all. First made popular by Apple, the cloud has been the subject of much scrutiny, particularly when last year it was hacked, revealing a handful of celebrity photos. This event called into question the safety of cloud services, claiming it was faulty and fraught with risks to the users. I’m here to tell you, however, that with proper security, the cloud is not only an excellent storage decision for homes and businesses, but a safe one as well.
How secure are your passwords?
What Is the Cloud?
For those of you unfamiliar, here is a quick break down of what the cloud is and what it does. Contrary to Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz’s flop, Sex Tape, the cloud is not nearly as mysterious as it seems. A collection of networks, the cloud is a storage-based service, allowing you to access your information from any web-connecting device. When it was first released, it revolutionized the way that we used our music, letting us switch between phone and computers with the same information available on each. Since then it has grown to include software used in our every day lives, making it especially ideal for businesses. Now, with cloud-storage, employers and employees can access their work from any device at any time. This increases work productivity, communication through the company, and employee efficiency. When used correctly and with the proper security precautions, the cloud is an exceptional means of storing data. Learn more about how the cloud can be useful for you here.
A strong password will instantly stump novice hackers and have them moving onto the next job on their list. While a strong password won’t stop professional hackers, they will but a stop to those new to the job. Great passwords are your first line of defense in security for your stored data. While we’ve all had the pleasure of going through the steps to create a new password (one uppercase letter, one symbol, three numbers, an airplane ticket to Tahiti), they really have it right. Try making your password as complex as possible, without running the risk of forgetting it yourself. Be sure to change your password frequently across all of your sites. Most importantly be wary of using the same password across every password-encrypted site you enter. If it’s convenient for you, it’s convenient for a hacker. Likewise, be careful about where you store your password information. Many people find that writing it down on a post it and sticking it to the underside of a desk drawer is a smart idea. Guess what? It’s not. Be mindful, and instead try choosing a password that’s easy for you to remember, but difficult for others to guess.
2. Two-Step Verification
The next step in increasing security for your data is to install two-step verification. Many cloud services in particular allow you to manually turn this on, so that you can employ an added level of security that is sure to stump hackers. By turning the verification step on, you will find that you will not only have to enter your password, but that afterward you’ll need to verify the user on the device. Most often, the verification takes places as a code sent to your mobile phone, which you then must plug into the device you’re attempting to access. This added step in security is crucial in keeping even the most experienced hackers out of your information. Check to see whether your cloud setup has two-step verification and whether it can provide an added level of protection to your information.
3. Virus Protection
Again, while probably a no brainer, virus protection is something that a lot of people avoid getting. With computers being the most advanced they’ve ever been, many people think that they can avoid purchasing virus protection software and let their computers handle the hard work. Particularly with PC’s, which are more apt to virus’, virus protection will give your information an added fire wall, keeping people from instantly breaking in and gathering all of your personal information. No matter how many precautions you’ve taken to secure your cloud service, if you access it from an unprotected computer, you’re allowing hackers access to all sorts of information. Do yourself, your wallet, and your sanity a favor and invest in an Anti-Virus and Anti-Spy program that will keep would be hackers out of your private documents.
While many email servers do a good job of filtering unwanted emails into your spam, there’s still the occasional sketchy-email that will slip through. Becoming popular in recent years, hackers that make it into your email will use your email to send out spam or phish others in your contact list. In most cases they will try to sell to your friends and family, or to make them believe that you need their personal information. For this reason, be very careful about what is sent over emails. Passwords, birthdays, social security numbers, credit card numbers—all of it can be used to access your bank account and drain your account of funds. If you suspect that your email has been hacked, alert your friends and family immediately, asking them to not respond to any email that seems strange for you to be sending.
Though encryption always makes me think of how bad the Da Vinci Code move was, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to your cloud services. The means by which private information is encoded; encryption allows approved parties only to have access to your documents. Many cloud services provide encryption as an option for added security. Encryption leaves hackers struggling as they are only able to access documents by decrypting them, forcing them to give up on the task at hand. Check your cloud provider and see if they are able to securely encrypt your information. If not, there are many different kinds of encryption software available, allowing you to encrypt your information prior to saving it to the cloud. While this can often be time consuming and cause delays in downloading and uploading, it is a necessary step, and one of your strongest efforts in the fight for keeping your information secure on the cloud.
6. Hire An IT Cloud Provider
Many companies have seen the benefit in having cloud services for their business. If this is you, consider investing in an IT Cloud Service Provider. These providers will set up your cloud, manage it, and ensure that everything remains safely stored. This takes the worry out of your hands and leaves your business safe from hackers who might try and steal your information. Additionally, with the cloud growing so quickly, and advancing all of the time, a provider can keep you updated. They will also help ensure that you receive the full functionality of your cloud services. Contact your local cloud provider and see how they can help take your business to the next level.
The cloud, while at first confusing for many, has since become one of the best means of storing information available. However, always be careful about what you store on your computer at all times. Private information that can be used to access bank accounts or medical records should be kept in your personal files and away from the Internet. Stop hacking immediately and keep your files safe from being pilfered, by practicing stellar security for your cloud storage services.
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